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I'm a US citizen in between jobs right now and also in a long distance relationship with someone in the EU. I've been looking for work in the US and the EU right now, and am hoping to get a job that will get me sponsorship. My potential job is in finance. I also miss my boyfriend a lot and want to visit him for two weeks.

What must I do to be able to do that? I can't be the first person who's decided to take an international vacation in between jobs. If I enter the EU, what are the rules regarding the job search? For example, if I get an interview with a company in the EU, will I have to first exit the EU, then reenter? What documentation should I bring to demonstrate that I don't plan to stay in the EU at the end of that visit? Would a return ticket, invitation letter, and a bank statement suffice?

I tried researching all this, but everything online just says that US citizens can enter the EU visa-free. Nothing specific to my circumstances.

EDIT for completeness: I've entered the EU three times before in the past three months for a week, a week, and a weekend. The ties that I have to the US are that my family lives there and I have a bank account there.

  • For completeness, when did you last enter the EU and for how long? Assuming you have, of course. And what ties do you have to the US? – Traveller Sep 21 at 7:12
  • Regarding your edit: Repeated earlier trips during which you followed the rules ought to be in your favor. Were you employed at the time? Were you asked whether you visited your boyfriend? – Relaxed Sep 22 at 6:40
  • Hi Relaxed, I was employed at that time and I was asked the purpose of my trip I said "visiting my boyfriend". I should also mention that I'm a guy. Thanks for considering these details. – tourist Sep 24 at 5:08
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Exiting and reentering would not achieve anything, there is no rule against multi-purpose stays. In the Schengen area, border guards only check whether you meet the requirements for entry, they do not grant you any permission, cannot attach additional conditions on your stay or anything like that. An invitation letter is useless, it's only useful for people who require a visa and need to establish a legitimate purpose for the visit or financial support. Besides, in your case, the fact you are visiting your boyfriend works against you so border guards will have absolutely no reason to doubt that.

I am also not aware of any rule against attending an interview during a visa-free stay, no matter whether it is planned or not. Job interviews are not listed anywhere but the logic of the Schengen regime is that it covers all purposes (the visa application form, for those who need a visa, even has a box titled “other”). There are specific job seekers visas in some countries (Germany) but that's only for longer stays. There is no separate procedure or visa to get in and out for an interview. So I wouldn't be too concerned about that.

Instead, the main concern is being prevented from entering based on the fact you have a boyfriend in the EU and the suspicion that you really intend to stay long-term. It would be very difficult for you to counter this suspicion because it is indeed what you intend to do. Looking for a job only lends additional support to this presumption. Obviously, you want to do it legally and follow all the rules and procedures but border guards would be concerned that the temptation to overstay and sort things out later would be too strong. Having a return ticket and bank statement is definitely useful but if it comes to that, it might not be enough.

Note that in practice, it's not unlikely you would be waved through with no questioning. But if you are, you have to disclose the fact that you are visiting your boyfriend and it could bring about the line of questioning I just described.

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U.S. Travelers in Europe

With a valid U.S. passport, you can stay up to 90 days for tourism or business during any 180-day period. Do not overstay! You must wait an additional 90 days before applying to re-enter the Schengen area.

Please note:
Searching for a job is neither a tourist or business activity

The German legal definition of what is understood to be a business traveler is defined in

  • § 16 BeschV business travelers

can be found below in an english translation.
Proof that the conditions stipulated in § 16 BeschV are fulfilled must be supplied.

Remember: Ignorantia juris non excusat


As always for all stays > 3 months, this is different from country to country

  • so it is wise to check the rules and opportunities offered for the country in question (which you have not stated)

For Germany this would start with:

Residence Visa / Long Stay Visa - Federal Foreign Office

Citizens of the United States of America, Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, the Republic of Korea, as well as EU citizens may apply for their residence permit after entering Germany without a visa.

Employment in Germany

However, in cases where an employment is intended to begin directly after arrival in Germany, a visa (which includes the work permit) has to be issued in advance, since it is not possible to start working in Germany before having the obligatory work permit.

One form of a Visa for a US-Citizen is the Jobseeker Visa.

Once you have found a job, the residence/work permit process can start immediately (i.e. you don't have to wait to the end of the 6 months)

If you are confident that 6 months is sufficient, you can make the initial application in the U.S. With an Invitation letter from your Boyfriend, the housing conditions of the application can be fulfilled. This would also have the advantage that the greater part of the needed paperwork has been completed/submitted.

When applying for the jobseeker visa in Germany, you should apply about 2-3 weeks before you want to start looking for a job.

During a job interview most potential employers will ask about citizenship and work permits. Having such a jobseeker visa will be more convincing that a tourist entry stamp.


Regulation on the Employment of Foreigners (Employment Ordinance - BeschV)
§ 16 business travelers

No approval requires the issue of a residence permit to persons who

  1. being employed abroad by an employer domiciled in the commercial sector,

  2. for an employer based abroad, to conduct domestic meetings or negotiations, to draw up contracts, to conclude contracts or to supervise the execution of a contract or

  3. create, supervise or control a domestic business for an employer based abroad

and who, within the scope of their employment while remaining habitually resident abroad, do not spend more than 90 days in Germany within a period of 180 days.

Schengen Code Artical 6

  • Entry Conditions for thrid-country nationals
    • 3 A non-exhaustive list of supporting documents which the border guard may request from the third-country national in order to verify the fulfilment of the conditions set out in paragraph 1 (c) is included in Annex I

Schengen Border Code Annex I

Supporting documents to verify the fulfilment of entry conditions The documentary evidence referred to in Article 6(3) may include the following:
(a) for business trips:
(i) an invitation from a firm or an authority to attend meetings, conferences or events connected with trade, industry or work;
(ii) other documents which show the existence of trade relations or relations for work purposes;
(iii) entry tickets for fairs and congresses if attending one;

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    Attending a job interview is a typical business activity, perfectly acceptable during an ordinary short visit (based on an ordinary type C visa or visa-free). – Henning Makholm Sep 21 at 12:25
  • @HenningMakholm your source for this? – Mark Johnson Sep 21 at 12:28
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    It doesn't really matter whether it falls under business or not, the State department is incorrect or maybe just trying to keep it simple by mentioning “tourism and business”. Unlike US B visas, Schengen visas (or visa-free stays) cover all purposes, not just tourism or business. One way you can confirm this is by looking at the Schengen visa Handbook or the application form itself (it has half a dozen checkboxes with other purposes than tourism or business and an open-ended option if your purpose is not in the list). – Relaxed Sep 21 at 18:44
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    @phoog You're not overlooking anything, it's exactly what I am referring to. They don't have much to say because there is only one regime for short stays, covering all purposes. The handbook implies that an additional permit might be required if you are working (but certainly not a separate visa). That's the only purpose for which such a permit is mentioned anywhere AFAIK. In this framework, it doesn't make sense to let member states arbitrarily restrict permitted activities but my main point is simply that short stays are not restricted to business and tourism (the premise of this answer). – Relaxed Sep 21 at 20:09
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    @MarkJohnson Yes but you addressed that comment to me and I didn't comment on this particular question either way. I did comment on your answer itself, which is still inaccurate and misleading. – Relaxed Sep 22 at 6:38

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