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I have been invited to deliver a talk at a tech conference in summer in Germany. My conference organizers in their visa invitation letter mentioned the conference's actual dates. Also, per the invitation letter, I'm to arrive 2 days prior to the conference start date and my departure date is mentioned as 2 days after the conference ends. The last 2 days I don't have plans, just stay in the same city.

  1. Can I stay 2 days prior to the conference and 2 days after with a business visa?
  2. How should my cover letter be written in that case?
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    Even just for practical reasons… There may simply not be a reasonable flight right the next day after the conference, so it’s perfectly natural to stay a few days extra.
    – deceze
    Jan 25 at 1:08
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    @deceze it's also reasonable to stay just because you want to. I'm concerned that the question "how should my cover letter be written" implies some desire to identify an acceptable justification for remaining an extra two days. For such a short extension, virtually any reason should be acceptable, including a reason as subjective and weak as "I feel like staying longer." If the applicant concocts a compelling reason for staying two days longer, it might backfire.
    – phoog
    Jan 25 at 9:15
  • Robert D'Souza: what is the true reason for your later departure? What is the true reason for your earlier arrival? Why did the organizers include these days in the invitation letter? Are they paying for your hotel and/or meals during that time?
    – phoog
    Jan 25 at 9:34
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    Planning to arrive two days early for a conference, especially if you are coming a long way is just ensuring that you will have actually arrived in time, even if your travel plans get hit by weather/strikes etc. I live in Europe and when we go for conferences in the US, we routinely plan to arrive 48 h in advance. Jan 25 at 10:21
  • Thanks as rightly said. I just want to have buffer days before hand instead of just landing in airport in midnight and next day is conference. fog, or other unforeseen which can make flight delayed is my concern. Hence want to have some safety time in hand Jan 25 at 14:02

4 Answers 4

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Oh yes!

Specifically, the Schengen visa for business and tourism are considered the same. Once you are granted either, you are considered welcome to stay in the Schengen area (for either tourism or business, or both) as long as you are within the visa validity limits.

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Nean Der Thal's answer is correct, but it relies on your having received a visa that covers the extra four days. I suspect that you're asking as much about how to make a successful application for a visa that covers your planned extra four days as you are about whether you can stay.

In other words, if the conference runs from the 14th to the 18th of the month and your visa is issued for a five-day stay or is only valid from the 14th to the 18th then you won't be able to arrive early or leave late. Your mentioning the cover letter implies that you realize this and that you are actually asking "what do I need to do in my visa application to justify arriving two days before the conference begins and leaving two days after it ends?" The answer to that is probably "not much."

The last 2 days I don't have plans, just stay in the same city.

It's probably not even necessary to mention this. Let's say the conference runs from Friday to Sunday, and you're submitting an application with an itinerary showing arrival on Wednesday and departure the following Tuesday along with six nights' accommodation. It's not very likely that a visa officer would view this with suspicion or would want an explanation for the choice of dates.

It wouldn't hurt to include a schedule of activities that includes "preparation for conference" or "tourism" during the days before and after the conference, but...

How should my cover letter be written in that case?

... be honest. False reasons that require you to arrive early or leave late are just going to increase the risk of refusal.

If you were traveling for a weekend conference but planning to stay for several weeks, you would certainly want to include an justification for the extra time. An extra few days is another matter entirely.

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Yes it is perfectly normal. You are asked to deliver a talk means you are knowledgeable in the topic. I bet there will be people who wants to talk to you after the conference ends. That is for day1. Day2 is getting you ready for the airport and not rush you in anyway.

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    But leaving the conference right after your talk and being a tourist for the rest of the time the visa lasts is also allowed.
    – Willeke
    Jan 25 at 5:31
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    To follow up on @Willeke's point, fabricating unnecessary reasons for staying longer could make an applicant look desperate or at least insincere. Since there's no need to justify the later departure as having a connection to the conference, it's best just to be honest about why you want to stay. It probably doesn't even need to be mentioned in the invitation letter -- a traveler could decide to pursue some personal activities (tourism or what have you) for a couple of days without the participation of the conference organizers.
    – phoog
    Jan 25 at 9:11
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Remember that unlike US or Canadian visas, Schengen visas are given only for the duration you've applied for. You must leave Schengen area the calendar date when your visa expires. But as others have said, there's no specific requirement that you spend all your time only in business work; you can mix business and pleasure together. [That is to say, the respective embassy is not your HR. :) ]

In your application, you are free to say I'd like to remain in Schengen for x days for business and travel, but you would be required to show that you have funds to support yourself in that period, and are likely to leave after that period (which you can usually demonstrate with hotel bookings and a return ticket). Most conferences usually end on a Friday or start on a Monday for that reason; attendees are expected to spend an extra day or two exploring the area.

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