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I am going to be an au pair and will not qualify for a work visa, and do not want to pay for 15 hours of classes to qualify as a student. Does Spain have any rules for "onward travel" where I would need to show proof of when I am leaving the country? I plan on staying for at least 9 months, but do not want to fly out of Spain because I will be visiting friends in northern Europe afterwards. I want to travel by train into France so I won't have a flight booked for then either. It will be a long time before I know what day I fly back to the USA so I prefer to book a one-way flight. I have been looking into this for a while but can't seem to get a concrete answer on what will happen when I show up with a one-way flight.

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This is not an answer to your question about flights, but since you are from US you can only stay in EU Schengen Area (includes Spain and most of Western/Northern Europe) for 90 days. According to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_policy_in_the_European_Union "for pleasure or for business without the need to apply for a visa for a maximum of 90 days in a 180 day period." This means you cannot stay in Spain for 9 months as you planned without a proper visa. –  Toni Frankola Aug 27 '11 at 18:50
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You're planning to be illegal immigrant and work illegally? You want advice? Come legally or don't come at all. You're risking getting deported and banned from entering Europe. –  vartec Aug 31 '11 at 13:34
    
Have you investigated whether there are special rules to cover au pairs? It's a common enough situation that I find it hard to believe all the au pairs in Europe are illegal. –  DJClayworth Jul 4 '13 at 13:23
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3 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Buy the cheapest one-way ticket out of the country. Show this as proof of your onward travel. Then forget about it; you don't need to use it.

For example, you can get Madrid to London for 15 euros on RyanAir.com. For 15 euros, you can have peace of mind. Better safe than sorry.

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You could also buy a fully flexible/refundable one way ticket onwards, then get a refund on it once you're there. –  Gagravarr Aug 27 '11 at 17:50
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Train and bus tickets also usually work for such purposes I've been told but I've never had to use one. –  hippietrail Aug 27 '11 at 18:27
    
Although a train or bus ticket might work I think a plane ticket is the safest. Even though it doesn't really make any sense I've seen a case where a passenger with an onward bus ticket country was denied boarding and had to buy an onward plane ticket on the spot. –  user27478 Sep 2 '11 at 13:15
    
@user27478 good grief, I'd ask to speak to a supervisor - I've used bus tickets plenty of times in both US and Canada as my evidence of departure. –  Mark Mayo Jul 4 '13 at 8:14
    
As long as being illegal immigrant and tax criminal can be considered "at peace of mind". –  vartec Jul 4 '13 at 11:00
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I've done this several times now for several countries - entering it without a return ticket.

(To be fair, every time I've been to Spain I've had a return ticket, but they'd be similar to any other EU country.)

Countries that I've done it ve not always asked, but have always been satisfied with:

  • an onward plane journey (eg I arrived to the USA by plane from Colombia, and then had another ticket on to Germany) - doesn't have to be return
  • an onward bus journey (I used to book buses from Seattle to Vancouver, as that's pretty cheap - often less than $10 with Bolt Bus, but still reasonable with Greyhound
  • if that wasn't available, a train ticket

I've also heard of evidence of accommodation being booked in another city being enough - for example, you may be planning on going from Buffalo to Toronto (Canada) via local transport, or by car, so showing a car rental if you have it, or your hotel booked in Toronto and an explanation of how you 'plan' to be there is plenty.

However, nothing says you HAVE to stick to those plans, and as long as you don't overstay your visa, don't break the law and always have an exit ticket of some form (even if it changes), there should be no problem.

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In my experience, you're not going to have any problems. They can technically ask for proof of onward travel, proof of adequate funds, and proof of housing. In reality, they'll (in all likelihood) see that you're American and (maybe) ask how long you're staying. There aren't really concrete answers because there seems to be a discrepancy between the law and the reality. I flew in the Schengen area fairly extensively, and I never had any trouble at customs.

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Did you fly into the Schengen area on a one-way ticket? It's possible the immigration officer already knows that you have a round-trip ticket out of the country and that's why you weren't questioned. Personally, I have been hassled upon entering Europe on a one-way ticket. I've seen it happen in the USA before too. I think in these cases officers could see there was no onward travel which triggered the flag for questioning. –  user27478 Aug 28 '11 at 8:28
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