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I am a Canadian married to Italian in Italy. Our marriage has been registered in Italy and everything is legit. I live and own a business in Canada and my husband is planning to join me in the future. He is staying in Italy until his elderly mother passes on so in the meantime I am back and forth because I have more flexibility. I was in Italy for 90 days (consecutively from May to August) and need to return within the 180 days (in December) for his ailing mother.

I am in need to find a way to get into Italy without being stopped at the border. I am looking to apply for a reunification visa, but I have searched the web for information, but cannot find an actual visa form specifically about a reunification visa. I even emailed back and forth with the consular office he is telling me I don't need a visa, just to register at the Anagrafe, but how do I get into the country to register? Can someone advise if I can just apply for a regular Schengen visa and indicate in the cover letter that I am joining my husband or is there a separate visa form for re-unification? Thanks to all in advance.

marked as duplicate by phoog visas Sep 3 at 12:47

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The consular officer is correct. You don't need a visa. If you don't stay for longer than three months on any one visit, you don't even need to register. All you have to do is be able to show that your husband is in Italy and that you are going to visit him. If you can do that, the 90/180 rule does not apply to you.

The sources for the above are the free movement directive, 2004/38/EC and the Schengen Borders Code.

  • "you don't need a visa": Directive, Art. 5(2).

  • "If you don't stay for longer than three months on any one visit, you don't even need to register": Directive, Art. 6 and Art. 7.

  • "All you have to do is be able to show that your husband is in Italy and that you are going to visit him": Directive, Art. 3(1).

  • "If you can do that, the 90/180 rule does not apply to you": Borders Code, Art. 2(5) and 2(6). The former defines non-EU family who fall under the free movement directive as "persons enjoying the right of free movement under Union law." The latter defines "third-country national" to exclude persons enjoying the right of free movement under EU law. When you're traveling with or to join your husband, therefore, you are not a third country national with respect to the Schengen Borders Code, so the 90/180 rule, imposed by Borders Code Art. 6, does not apply to you.

(As an aside, if you're returning in December, that's not within the 180-day period that started in May, so you would not even be in violation of the 90/180 rule if it did apply to you.)

If you were from a visa-required country, you would indeed use the standard Schengen visa application form. It has some notes about certain questions that are not to be answered by people applying under free movement rules.

Some readers will point out that EU free movement rules do not, strictly speaking, apply to your case because they do not affect a country's relationship with its own citizens (and their family members). However, Italian law says that family of Italian citizens must be treated at least as favorably as family of other EU citizens (see What does the spouse of an Italian citizen need in order to stay in the Schengen area for more than 90 days? for a detailed discussion). In other words, this Italian law extends the benefits of the free movement directive to the family of Italian citizens in Italy.

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