I am an Indian citizen about to start graduate school in the United States. I anticipate flying back home every year for a month or two though some EU country.

My question is this: is there a possibility of holding an extended visa to EU for the purpose of tourism in EU? I sometimes regret that there are cheap tickets to Paris or Amsterdam or such, and I have friends who can host me but I have to drop such plans for the fear of bureaucracy.

Any remarks or helpful pointers will be greatly appreciated.

  • Your US Visa will probably allow you to transit through Schengen if you don't leave the international part of the airport. – DJClayworth Apr 23 '16 at 4:16
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    @DJClayworth Indeed, I am aware of that. I really do mean touring European cities -- like on a bicycle tour or something like that... :) – kan Apr 23 '16 at 5:49

As far as the regulation are concerned you can get a multiple entry visa valid for up to five years. You are still bound by the 90 days in any 180-day period maximum stay rule but if you don't exceed that, you can do as many trips as you want during those five years, paying the visa fee only once, with no extra paperwork.

The trouble is that you can't just ask for one and expect to get it. I don't think the rules explicitly say that anywhere but my understanding is that the five-year visa is mostly intended for UK residents (the UK is in the European Union and geographically very close to the Schengen area but not part of it).

As a US resident, you could probably hope for a two-year visa, which already gives you some flexibility. But you need to be a trusted traveller to get one (that is to have completed several trips on short single-entry visas) and to show you have a stable situation in your country of residence (thus being a student is probably less than ideal). It does not hurt to ask but consulates can always decide to issue a single-entry visa covering the trip at hand instead.

There is a bit of luck involved as well, I have heard about people getting a multiple-entry visa the first time around. The best you can do to help your case if you are not that lucky is to go several times through the bureaucratic process and respect the rules scrupulously. After several visits, you stand a better chance of getting such a multiple-entry visa.

  • I feared as much -- I suppose I should just go through the procedures a couple of times and see how that goes. – kan Apr 23 '16 at 0:05
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    @kan If I were you, I would ask for a multiple entry visa on the first application. Give your itinerary for your visit, and explain that you hope to make similar trips throughout your time in the US. Show evidence of your studies and status in the US. If they decide not to grant the multiple visa, they can still grant a single-entry or dual-entry visa. Keep asking for a multiple entry visa; with each application, your chance of getting it will increase. With this approach, you don't have to guess when you'll be eligible for a multiple-entry visa. – phoog Apr 25 '16 at 23:05
  • @phoog: Thank you for your comment. That is indeed a sensible thing to do. – kan Apr 26 '16 at 1:37
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    @Relaxed I also heard it can depend on the Schengen country that you are trying to get the visa for. People say some are VERY strict and give visas only for the duration of your trip (like a few days) but others may give you one for 6 months. I think also the result might be different in different embassies for that same country. – kiradotee Apr 26 '16 at 17:37

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