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I am traveling from San Francisco to Mumbai via Zurich Airport, where I have 18hrs halt. I have an Indian Passport and a valid US F1 visa.

Can I leave the airport and do some sightseeing in Zurich?

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    You would need a Schengen visa to do that. – CGCampbell Jan 1 '15 at 15:56
  • @Rony, question: why is it important that you have US F1 Visa where you're question relates to Switzerland? (this is the 2nd time I see someone asking a question with respect to US visa and a european country). Thanks! – adhg Jan 1 '15 at 16:46
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    @adhg It is important because some visas make you a resident of that country. For Schengen, if you hold some specific American visa, you are considered as having a reason to leave Schengen after your transit/trip therefore you can obtain some Schengen visa. There is a detailed question and answer on the topic – Vince Jan 1 '15 at 17:03
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    @adhg: The Schengen rules exempt holders of certain foreign visas from the requirement to get an airport transit visa that they would otherwise need. This rule is of limited applicability because it only allows transiting in a single Schengen airport without leaving it, and it is is only a select few nationalities that need airport transit visas for this in the first place (much fewer than the nationalities that need a visa to leave the airport and actually enter Schengen). However rumors of this rule tend to make many holders of US visas hope they might be relevant somehow. – Henning Makholm Jan 1 '15 at 21:03
  • @HenningMakholm That's quite an uncharitable way to put it. As you explained, US visas do have an impact on transit rules (+1 for that). Of course, in this case it does not allow the OP to leave the airport but if he knew it, he would not need to ask a question. Either way, it's still a relevant bit of information and it's a good thing that people provide it when asking a question. We complain all the time about people who don't even specify their citizenship… – Relaxed Jan 2 '15 at 0:43
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No, you cannot. As an Indian citizen, you can transit in Zurich without visa under certain conditions but you need a proper Schengen visa to leave the airport. There are no exemptions or visa-on-arrival for short visits or sight-seeing during layovers in the Schengen area. If you want to do that, you need to go through the whole rigmarole (providing various documents, paying the fee, having your biometrics taken, etc.)

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