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Russian citizen, US permanent resident is planning a trip to Russia and back on the following itinerary: US -- (flight) --> Iceland (Reykjavik) 1 day stay --(flight)--> Finland (Helsinki) 1 day stay --(train)--> Russia and back.

  1. Since Iceland is in Schengen, the immigration should be cleared in Reykjavik, Reykjavik->Helsinki is a "domestic" flight. Is this correct?
  2. In order to be admitted to Iceland, Icelandic short term single entry Schengen visa must be procured. Is it correct?
  3. In order to be admitted to Finland on the way back, Finnish short term single entry Schengen visa must be procured. Is it correct?
  4. So, 2 applications have to be filed to 2 separate consulates at the same time. Is it frowned upon? Should one visa be applied then the other one?
  5. My own research shows that "when you spend equal time in multiple countries you should procure a visa to the first country you enter". However it will be a different country for the forward and for the backward trip. Can the said Russian citizen avoid getting separate visas? Can just a double-entry visa from just one country be procured? If so from which one? Iceland or Finland?

Suggestions and comments with links to appropriate laws and regulations are welcome.

Update: in this particular case both Finland and Iceland are represented by the same third-country consulate. As a result a visa bearing "R/FI" (i.e. Finnish visa) was given.

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    No, you use one Schengen for your journey. Apply to the Iceland consulate in NYC. – Gayot Fow May 1 '16 at 4:32
  • @GayotFow, So one double-entry short term Icelandic Schengen visa, right? Then will the Russian citizen in question have trouble being admitted to Finland on the way back? – mzu May 1 '16 at 5:13
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    Well yes, this is pretty basic stuff; you found us on the net, were you unable to clarify how schengen works with similar research? – Gayot Fow May 1 '16 at 5:43
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The Schengen rules state that you should apply to the country that is your main destination for the trip. This is usually the Schengen area country where you spend the most time. However, if no main destination can be determined, you must apply at the country where you will first enter the Schengen area.

Because your itinerary is an intra-Schengen transit, and you aren't spending significantly more time in either country, there is no main destination.

So, you should apply to Iceland for a multiple entry Schengen visa covering your entire itinerary, both outgoing and return.

(However, note well that if there is some other reason you chose this strange itinerary, that could affect which country is the main destination. For instance, if you wanted to go sightseeing in Iceland on your long layover, or meeting friends in Helsinki for a long night of vodka, that would make that country the main destination.)

On this itinerary, you will make two entries into the Schengen area.

Your first entry will be in Reykjavik, where you will clear immigration into the Schengen area. Your flight to Helsinki will be an intra-Schengen flight, and you won't clear immigration again (but you will clear customs in Helsinki if you checked your baggage through). You will then exit the Schengen area at the Russian border.

Your second entry to the Schengen area will again be on the train at the Finland/Russia border, where you will clear immigration and customs. You then fly to Iceland as an intra-Schengen flight, and clear out of the Schengen area at Reykjavik airport when you get on your flight back to the US.

P.S. If your visa is refused for some reason, there are plenty of non-stop flights from the US to SVO or DME.

  • Thanks for an elaborate reply. The Russian citizen in question main destination is St-Petersburg Russia. Primary reason for this itinerary is the price deal. Likely, she will do some sightseeing, while in Iceland/Finland. But sightseeing on the way is not the primary reason of this itinerary. – mzu May 1 '16 at 5:32
  • @MikhailNZakharov I think applying to Iceland is the correct way, then. If it is wrong (e.g. maybe there are more days in Finland because of the length of the train ride), then the Iceland consulate will just tell you to apply to Finland instead. When you count days, remember that both the day of entry and the day of departure are counted. – Michael Hampton May 1 '16 at 5:35
  • @MichaelHampton The train ride from Helsinki to the Russian border is only a few hours. – jpatokal May 1 '16 at 22:17
  • @MichaelHampton, additional complication: none of the Iceland embassies in the US handle visas, they outsource it to vfs. When I contacted vfs, I was told that I will be getting Swedish visa instead, and it will be valid for entry into Iceland. Does it sound plausible? – mzu May 12 '16 at 20:40
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    @MikhailNZakharov Yes, this happens often with Schengen area countries. – Michael Hampton May 12 '16 at 20:45

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