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BANGKOK 21 May 2019 21:49

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My Thai wife has FLTR in the UK (till 2020) and a UK Residence Permit (BRP) which says "Spouse/Partner" under type of permit. We would like to take a short holiday together to Holland and Belgium in September. Assuming Brexit has not happened by then - does she need a schengen visa? 

 

Apologies if this question has been asked before (couldn't find an exact match when I did a search). I've researched various websites and they have conflicting advice. The more "reliable" websites say a visa is not required for the spouse of a UK citizen with a residence permit stating that he/she is a "family member of an EU/EEA national" My wife's BRP implies this but does not expressly state it. I suppose it could be interpreted that she may be the spouse of someone who is not an EU/EEA national but who has the right to live in the UK.

 

Anyone had recent experience of travelling with their spouse/partner to the EU in similar circumstances?

 

A few years ago (before BRPs I think) the advice was be on the safe side and get a visa (which should be free). However the Dutch embassy talks about applying in person in London for a visa which is a long way from where we live.

 

Any thoughts would be appreciated. Many thanks.

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Posted (edited)

Your wife is still required to get a Schengen visa to travel to the Netherlands as she doesn't have a a full UK passport , BOTC , BOC, BPP or BS passport . The fact that she is your wife  or that she holds a BRP really means nothing. The residence permit doesn't make you a citizen. PERIOD!

 

 

https://www.schengenvisainfo.com/who-needs-schengen-visa/

 

You answer is in the last paragraphs.

Edited by anon7854

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Anon is right that it doesn't make your wife a citizen.

 

What it does as she has a BRP and she is married to you and you are traveling together it means that you are entitled to a free, expedited Schengen visa providing minimal paperwork and you should be able to get it directly from the Dutch Embassy. Look on their website.

 

My wife got one while we waited from the Danish Embassy back in 2016. It was for a holiday for Iceland. Has Brexit made a difference? I don't know but the Dutch are one of the more enlightened of the EU members when it comes to Schengen visas.  

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for your replies. With respect, I don't think it is as simple as you say. If you look at the website https://www.schengenvisainfo.com/apply-from-uk/ it says the following :-

"Does the spouse of British national with UK permanent residence need a Schengen visa?

Yes, the non-EU spouse of a UK national requires a visa to travel to the Schengen Area. However, if the following conditions are met then they are not required a visa:

  • The spouse holds a UK Residence Permit that states that the holder is a family member of an EU/EEA National.
  • Travelling with or joining the EEA/EU spouse."

 

Furthermore, if you look at the EU Directive 2004/38/EC on Free Movement - https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=celex:32004L0038 - Article 5 says the following :-

 

"

Right of entry

1.   Without prejudice to the provisions on travel documents applicable to national border controls, Member States shall grant Union citizens leave to enter their territory with a valid identity card or passport and shall grant family members who are not nationals of a Member State leave to enter their territory with a valid passport.

No entry visa or equivalent formality may be imposed on Union citizens.

2.   Family members who are not nationals of a Member State shall only be required to have an entry visa in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 or, where appropriate, with national law. For the purposes of this Directive, possession of the valid residence card referred to in Article 10 shall exempt such family members from the visa requirement.

Member States shall grant such persons every facility to obtain the necessary visas. Such visas shall be issued free of charge as soon as possible and on the basis of an accelerated procedure.

3.   The host Member State shall not place an entry or exit stamp in the passport of family members who are not nationals of a Member State provided that they present the residence card provided for in Article 10.

4.   Where a Union citizen, or a family member who is not a national of a Member State, does not have the necessary travel documents or, if required, the necessary visas, the Member State concerned shall, before turning them back, give such persons every reasonable opportunity to obtain the necessary documents or have them brought to them within a reasonable period of time or to corroborate or prove by other means that they are covered by the right of free movement and residence.

5.   The Member State may require the person concerned to report his/her presence within its territory within a reasonable and non-discriminatory period of time. Failure to comply with this requirement may make the person concerned liable to proportionate and non-discriminatory sanctions."

 

Therefore, to paraphrase, it seems that a family member (which includes a foreign spouse) does not require a visa if they have a valid residence card. The nagging question in my mind is whether the UK Residence Permit is a valid residence card or not. If not, then there is also the backstop (pardon the word!) of proving the spouse's status at the entry border to the schengen area (provided check-in staff at UK airports allow boarding of the plane).

 

The reason I am anxious not to have to get a free of charge visa for my wife is that I think she would need to have a 500 mile roundtrip to London to apply for the bloody thing.

 

Surely there must be some active members in this forum who have tried to go to the EU for a holiday without first getting a visa. Thanks.

 

Edited by CharlieH
formatting corrected.

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See the Schengen sticky topic:

https://forum.thaivisa.com/topic/724180-schengen-visa-faq-when-applying-from-thailand/

 

----


I am a family member (spouse, child) of an EU/EEA citizen:
If the applicant is travelling to another Schengen member state then the one that your EU family member is a national of, and you are travelling together or the non EU/EEA national family member is travelling to join the EU/EEA national family member, then you are entitled to a FREE visa which should be granted swiftly (accelerated procedure) and with minimum hassle. Your application falls under directive 2004/38/EC regarding the Freedom of Movement. A minimum of documentation and requirements apply.
It's important to know who qualifies as a family member of an EU/EEA citizen though.

Who qualifies?: 
The non-EU spouse, (grand)children or (grand)parents. And only If they will be travelling together with you, or joining you in another EU country then the country you are a citizen of. Your registered partner and extended family - siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, and so on - can ask the authorities in an EU country to officially recognise them as family members of an EU national. EU countries do not have to recognise them as your family members but they do at least have to consider the request.
Example: a German and his Thai spouse have to apply for a regular C type visa if they are applying for a stay in Germany. If they would go on holiday to Spain for instance, they would be able to apply for the EU/EEA family member visa.

Requirements:
A minimum of documentation and requirements apply: travel insurance is not required, hotel bookings are not required, transport bookings (flight) is not required etc. For a spouse the marriage certificate + possibly legalisation by the local ministry of foreign affairs to confirm it's a genuine document + official translation to a language that the embassy can read should be sufficient. Sadly not all embassies apply the Visa Code properly. There should be no need for hotel reservations, insurance or other such things. They may for instance ask that your marriage is registrated in the EU. That most certainly is not a requirement (the EU directive simply requires you to be genuinly married). It could be more efficient to cooperate with such silly demands but if you are unable or unwilling to do so due to cost or time constraints, you would be in your right to point out that the embassy is asking too much.
What is required:
- Show that the applicant (non EU) is first line family of an EU national: provide the marriage certificat (translated if need be, there should be no need to register a Thai marriage in the EU spouse his/her country).
- Provide passports of the both of you so they can ID you.
- Confirmation that the two of you will be traveling together or joining eachother in the member state: declaration by the EU spouse, optionally as extra evidence a reservation for transport to the EU.

It is always best for non-EU family members to be well informed in advance and have all the necessary documents before starting their journey. However, if they arrive at the border without an entry visa, the border authorities should give them the opportunity to prove by other means that they are your family members. If they manage to prove it, they should be issued with an entry visa on the spot.
Further details:

 

---

 

Basically for as long as the UK is in the EU, the Thaise spouse and other direct family members of a UK national traveling to an other EU country can get a visa for free, ASAP via a simplified and expedited procedure. This applies those with a  UK visitor visa and those with a standard UK residence permit/rights. An exception is those people with special rights (Surinder Sighn) , those family members have special rights with a special card that explicitly says 'family member of an EU national'. In these cases they can travel together with the EU national visa free.

 

But for the topic starter a free Schengen visa will be required.

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Donutz, many thanks for the information. A lot of websites give similar advice although this is somewhat at odds with the websites that I quoted.

 

Where it says "a FREE visa which should be granted swiftly (accelerated procedure) and with minimum hassle." do you know if this means that the spouse still has to attend in person for an interview? If so, then as most people here do not live in London, this would cause a lot of hassle.

 

Once again, many thanks.

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I think these days all embassies require the applicant to come by at their embassy (London) or consulate (elsewhere in the UK), some such as Spain will do their best to force the optional external service provider on you. 

 

They don't do interviews (unless you count asking for confirmation of name and travel destination  as such), they will want to take biometrics (fingerprints and a photo).

 

But since she would need to apply via the embassy or consulate of the country that will be your main destination,  it probably would be best to just check with them (website, possibly e-mail). 

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6 hours ago, durhamboy said:

Where it says "a FREE visa which should be granted swiftly (accelerated procedure) and with minimum hassle." do you know if this means that the spouse still has to attend in person for an interview? If so, then as most people here do not live in London, this would cause a lot of hassle.

Yes. The applicant has to attend to supply a photo and fingerprints and there is no way around it.

 

I have heard of a few people who have done it without a visa. A couple have been documented on here and elsewhere. Mainly on the Eurostar but I would be nervous about trying with all the Brexit nonsense going on. And it could cost a lot more than a trip to London, if you bought tickets and then your wife wasn't allowed to travel.

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Thanks for your advice. I'll email info.schengen@vfshelpline.com to see what they say and I'll post their response if they say anything worthwhile.

 

All seems a bit crazy to me. We're supposed to have free movement in the EU for spouses yet they seem to make it so difficult. My wife has already had her biometrics taken for her UK Residence Card (BRP). I took her to Dubai (UAE) recently. Yes she needed a visa but it was all done online with the minimum of fuss. No personal visit to embassy etc.

 

Frankly I'm beginning to wonder if it is worth it just for a 10 day holiday.

 

Any further comments/experience would be appreciated. Thanks.

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The main reason they want biometrics each time is so they know it's the same person applying each time.

 

You could try without one on a ferry trip to France or Holland. At least you won’t have wasted a load of cash if she is turned back.

 

Last year I struggled to find any body who had tried the visa free route and I have no idea if Brexit has changed things. It was probably has with France because they hate us any way. 😀

 

You do have alternatives. She can go to Turkey, visa free and there are many other countries a bit further afield where Thais don't need a visa.

 

We went on honeymoon to Jersey a couple of years ago.

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Thanks rasg. I don't think brexit has changed anything yet. At the moment we are still in the EU (although not the schengen) and therefore the rules should be the same until when and if we leave. We do particularly want to go to Bruges as I have a bit of a history there - I briefly worked for the Common Market in Bruges in the 1970's (ironic isn't it!).

 

The cost of us attending a personal appointment in London is probably more than a couple of cheap air tickets to Holland from where we live so I'm thinking of trying it without a visa. Not sure at the moment.

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The cost of us attending a personal appointment in London is probably more than a couple of cheap air tickets to Holland from where we live so I'm thinking of trying it without a visa. Not sure at the moment.
That’s of course assuming the carrier would allow your wife to board the flight.

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That’s why I only mentioned Eurostar and the ferries. I've only read of one single instance where a couple boarded an aircraft.

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Thanks rasg. Ferries and Eurostar are not really feasible from where we live. Regarding your previous research a couple of questions :-

1. Do you know if the couple who boarded the plane were allowed entry to their schengen destination? 

2. Do you know of any instances of couples being refused boarding of the airplane?

 

Cheers

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I only know of one success where a couple were both allowed to board and if I remember they arrived extremely early with lots of paperwork to make sure they had plenty of time.

 

Here you go. It took a bit of time but I found it. Take a look at the link at the end.

 

Directive 38

See also the visa Handbook found on the EU Home Affairs website:
- site: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/wh ... dex_en.htm
- handbook: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/wh ... ted_en.pdf
- the Schengen visa code itself is also found on the EU site.

From about page 83 onwards is a chapter dedicated to EU family member applications.

Under the the Directive your wife would of course be entitled to a free visa, provided that you show you are married, traveling together (or going to join the EU spouse) and they can ID the both of you. There should be no need for bankbooks, insurance, accommodation etc. since all that is irrelevant if you can show that she is your wife.

We boarded the flight to Amsterdam and i thought of what i was going to say to the immigration officer on arrival. I decided i would give our evidence incrementally and only if it was required so i could advise you all what is and is not accepted. We had our marriage certificate, translation of marriage cert, bank statements, council tax bills and driving licences with us to show that we were married and living at the same address. I also had the Directive 38 both in English and Dutch ready to show them of our rights.


http://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/travel/entry-exit/non-eu-family/index_en.htm

 

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