I was planning to travel to Europe as a tourist this summer before the pandemic struck. Considering that I need to apply for a visa, so wanting to minimize my chances for getting a refusal, I looked up the stats here

So, when I looked up the latest stats for my region's consulate which is Tokyo (I'm currently a resident here) , I noticed that Italy's share of MEV/Total Uniform visas issued was 100%. The next highest was Germany with 99.3 followed by Belgium with 98.9.

So, does this mean that all (or almost) all the people applying for the visas in these consulates get a certain Multi Entry visa?

  • Do you want to know if those stats mean that almost everybody who received a visa got a multiple entry visa, or do you want to know if they mean if you apply there, you will almost certainly get a multiple entry visa? Because those are slightly different questions with very different answers. You've asked the first but I suspect you mean the second. – Chris H Jun 26 at 7:12
  • @ChrisH Actually, I want to know both – Prada Jun 26 at 7:18

First things first, the title question:

Yes, it's possible to apply for a single-entry visa and be given a multiple-entry visa. My wife and I were previously in a long-distance relationship while she lived in Russia, and had that experience regularly from multiple Schengen countries. No doubt related to the fact that she has a very long travel history with no overstays or other immigration troubles.

As I commented, there are two slightly different questions with very different answers.

The question you directly asked:

does this mean that all (or almost) all the people applying for the visas in these consulates get a certain Multi Entry visa?

Not quite, but almost. It means that during the period the data was collected, (almost) all of the people who applied for visas in these consulates were given multiple entry visas. It doesn't necessarily say anything about whether that will continue to be the case. But it's probably likely, unless there's a change in one or more of: the demographics of applicants, general policies of the country receiving the applications, or the political relationship between the countries.

And the question that's more useful:

does this mean that I will almost certainly get a multiple entry visa if I apply there?

No. What happens when you apply depends to primarily on the details and circumstances of your application.

If you want to understand something from those numbers, you actually need to look at more than what you mentioned in the question. In the question you've quoted the number of multiple-entry visas issued as a fraction of all visas issued. You should first look at the ratio of visas issued to applications made.

What you should really understand from those numbers is:

Ratio of visas issued to applications made:

A ratio of visas issued to applications made means that a large majority of applications were considered to be good applications. That is, the consulate saw no reason to suspect the applicant would not abide by the conditions of their visa. A low ratio means lots of applications were unsuccessful.

This still doesn't actually tell you a whole lot, as you don't know anything about the circumstances of those approvals and rejections. A high success rate could indicate that a country is more lenient when evaluating applications, but it could just indicate that a country appeals more to demographics the consulate sees as low-risk - if poor applications aren't made, the consulate can't refuse them regardless of how strict their policies are.

Also note that this approval rate doesn't correlate with MEV-rate: of your examples, while Germany and Italy both approved the vast majority of applications, Belgium (98.9% multiple entry visas, where a visa was granted) rejected almost 12% of applications (2019 data: 321 applications, 283 granted). The Austrian consulate, on the other hand, gave out very few multiple-entry visas (3.5% of approved visas), but didn't reject a single one of the 592 applications received in 2019.

Ratio of multiple-entry visas to all visas issued:

A high ratio here tells you that the consulates don't appear to have an aversion to granting multiple-entry visas when they consider that a good (i.e. low risk) application is made.

You can probably read more into this than you can into the success rate, especially where numbers are extremely high (like the examples you mentioned). Short of very exceptional circumstances, you're certainly more likely to get a multiple entry visa from Italy than Austria, for example. But there's still no guarantee for your individual visa, and there's a huge amount of highly relevant information not included in these numbers.

As I've stated above, your chances of success depend primarily upon your personal circumstances and application. Except where the numbers are extremely low or extremely high, I wouldn't try to draw any conclusions. Even then, I'd be very careful in doing so.

I'd recommend you simply plan the trip you'd like to take, and figure out on that basis which country you need to apply to. If your trip requires a multiple-entry visa (for example, maybe you intend to visit the UK or some other non-Schengen state in the middle of the trip), you should be given one as long as the application is sound.

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As a matter of fact, it does mean that almost all applicants at the consulates you mention do get a MEV. Now, does it mean that you will get one to if you plan a trip to Italy?

Generally, consulates are free to issue whatever they want. There are legally binding rules in the Schengen visa code and guidelines in other documents produced by the EU commission but in reality consular officers still have a lot of leeway. They are certainly not contrained by the box an applicant checked on their form and it is reasonably common to get a multiple-entry visa (MEV) when applying for a single-entry visa and vice versa so that would not account for the difference.

The high percentage of multiple-entry visa issued by the Italian or the German consulates would depend in part on the profile of the applicants but also to the sending country's traditions and interpretation of the code and the consulate's practice so it stands to reason that you have a good chance of getting one when applying to the same consulate. It's difficult to fully harmonize such things as the estimation of the risk a specific applicant poses and member states are still in charge of the training and organisation of their consular and diplomatic service, which can lead to significant stable differences in the way visa applications are processed.

There is certainly no formal process to review statistics or individual cases between local consulates from different EU member states. There are some locales where different consulates pool ressources (e.g. the “maison Schengen”, now “centre européen des visas” in Kinshasa) but if a specific application creates difficulties, internal communication will typically be top-down, through the sending country ministry of foreign affairs.

In particular, I find it hard to believe that the difference between Italy's 100% and Spain's 1% rate of MEV, both over about 2000 applications a year and with a very low refusal rate could be completely down to the quality of the application, the type of travel or the profile of the applicants. You definitely stand a better chance of getting a MEV from Italy than from Spain, no matter the specifics of your situation and what you apply for.

If anyone is interested, the stats can be pulled off from the links at the bottom of this page.

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As a general rule, Multiple Entry Visas (MEV) are only issued when needed

  • a person travels regularly during a period
    • such as a business traveler
  • a person needs a double or multiple visa for a single visit

Such decisions will be based on the given itinerary stated in the application and possible travel history.

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