My old roommate has a dual citizenship of Venezuela and Costa Rica. He is an F-1 student in the United States.

An year ago he wanted to travel to Europe for 90 Days under the Schengen Visa Exemption and study there in a French University. Unfortunately his Venezuelan Passport was due to expire between his duration of travel and was the one that was stamped with the US Visa.

He planned his trip in such a way so that he could enter the Schengen Region with his Costa Rican passport and come back to the US on the same effectively using a different passport for the same visa.

How is this possible? I'll add more details as soon as I get more from my friend!

  • 1
    The question is a little confusing: “Visa Waiver Program” is US terminology and does not really apply to the Schengen area.
    – Relaxed
    Mar 26, 2014 at 6:50
  • I actually do not know the correct term for the same in the Schengen region but I agree with you on the same. Mar 26, 2014 at 7:13
  • @uncovery That's not really a “regulation” but some obscure FAQ. The relevant regulations most definitely do not and even less “visa waiver program”. What you find is language like “third-country nationals subject to the visa obligation”.
    – Relaxed
    Mar 26, 2014 at 7:53

1 Answer 1


Entering and leaving a country with different passports is indeed not advised. If the country uses computerized records (like the US), the entry and exit could conceivably fail to be matched and you risk being marked as an overstayer. If the country rely on stamps and checks passports on exit (like the Schengen area), border guards will demand to see the passport you used to enter.

But that's not necessarily what your friend did. For example, he could have done this:

  1. Enter and leave the US on the Venezuelan passport
  2. Enter and leave the Schengen area on the Costa Rican passport
  3. Enter and leave the US on the Costa Rican passport

In all cases, he would have entered and leaved each country with the same passport. Two things are important here:

  • It's perfectly possible to leave one country on one passport and enter the next one on another. When flying to Europe, you need to show the passport you used to enter the US to the airline (which will communicate its details to the US authorities) and you can show whatever you want to the Schengen border guards. When flying to the US, you would need to show the new passport to the airline (for the same reason as before: the US require airlines to communicate the details of the passport you used on all legs of your trip to the US, i.e. not necessarily only the last flight) and the old one to the Schengen border guards (they will want to see the entry stamp). Upon landing, you would use the new passport again.
  • It's also generally possible to enter using a valid passport and a valid visa in another passport (but see the first paragraph of this answer). Typically, the visa would be in an invalid/expired passport from the same country and having two citizenships is a little more exotic but there is no reason it should be impossible.

Since Venezuelan and Costa Rican citizens can all enter the Schengen area without visa, it does not really matter and your friend probably used his Costa Rican passport on the European side (especially considering the fact that in the Schengen area you need a passport valid for some time after the planned departure date). What would be tricky is if your friend was, e.g., a citizen from Venezuela and Columbia (don't know if that's actually possible). Since Columbian citizens need a visa to visit the Schengen area, he would really need to use the Venezuelan passport. But since that passport was expiring, he shouldn't be able to enter.

Alternatively, he might just have been lucky.

Note: Travelling with two different passports explains all this very clearly.

  • I have my US visa on an expired passport as well albeit the same country. Don't some visas carry the passport number on them as well? So shouldn't it make a difference that the visa is technically valid on a completely different passport and not a renewal of an old passport(as in my case). Or are visas stamped for the individual and the passport acts as a identity verification which just "happens" to carry the visa on it as well. Mar 26, 2014 at 7:17
  • @AdityaSomani It would appear so but I don't know US law well enough to answer conclusively.
    – Relaxed
    Mar 26, 2014 at 7:42
  • @AdityaSomani my father used to be in that situation (having a permanent visa to the US without expiration date due to visiting the country for business about once a month or more). He had to get that visa reprinted in his new passport when the old one expired, which usually just involved a quick visit to a US embassy. One time he had to visit the US before he could do so he was admitted on the expired passport but did get told to get it transfered to the new passport as soon as possible because it was highly irregular.
    – jwenting
    Mar 26, 2014 at 10:02
  • @AdityaSomani Note that in some rare cases (e.g. people traveling with a Turkish Cypriot passport) a US visa can be on a separate piece of paper. Green card holders can also enter without a visa so it's not an absolute rule that any document required for entry should be in the passport.
    – Relaxed
    Mar 26, 2014 at 10:45
  • 1
    @AdityaSomani Note that for the country you are trying to enter, the most important thing is to make sure that you are really the person they vetted and to whom they granted a visa. Some countries (like the Schengen area) are increasingly relying on biometrics for that purpose. Ultimately, the objective is that in most cases, your personal details would be matched with an entry in the visa database created when you applied, arguably making the passport and the visa sticker less relevant than ever.
    – Relaxed
    Mar 27, 2014 at 11:30

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