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I am travelling to Barcelona for a conference for 4 days but also spending 5, 2, 1 days at Paris, Madrid and Lisbon with my entry and exit point (to India) being Paris. The problem is that Spain does not have a visa centre where I live and I would have to travel far (and expensively) whereas France has a visa centre in my city.

I know 'technically' the right visa to get is from Spain but I would like to know if it is OK to apply to France (with a visa centre closer to home) since the number of days in France and Spain are almost identical and entry/exit is from France, even though the main event I am attending is in Spain.

Will it be a problem to obtain the visa at the France visa centre or will I get denied entry at Paris, since my main event is in Barcelona?

Need to apply quick.

  • Usually this is allowed only if the country you want to travel to has no consulate anywhere in your whole country. – Michael Hampton Feb 23 '17 at 18:23
  • Obviously I am going to state the work at Spain but more number of days is (or can be modified now) spent in Paris. So then according to rule "if the visit includes more than one destination, the Member State whose territory constitutes the main destination of the visit(s) in terms of the length or purpose of stay" Since Paris is the longest I am going to stay in (in the modified plan), France application will be fine now? – Ram Kumar Feb 23 '17 at 18:26
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In theory, if the purpose of your trip is a conference in Spain, then Spain is your main destination regardless of how many days you spend in France. However, it is most common to judge the main destination by the number of days spent in each country. Therefore, the French consulate may accept or reject your application depending on how much weight they give to the conference.

If the French authorities decide that Spain is your main destination, they are supposed to return your application along with the visa fee and instructions to seek the visa from Spain (I do not know whether they will return the processing fee). The costs of a rejected application, therefore, are relatively low.

Your best course of action, therefore, is probably to modify your itinerary so that you are spending more days in France than in Spain, but be aware that it's possible you'll still have to apply to Spain in the end.

If you do not have time for a second application, then the more certain course of action would be to apply to Spain.

  • After reading the answers I am planning on modifying the itinerary and making Paris the most days stayed while disclosing about the conference and my intended trip to Lisbon in the French visa application. – Ram Kumar Feb 24 '17 at 10:48
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It seems we know the essential purpose of your trip is the conference in Barcelona. If that is so it determines where you are supposed to apply - ie Spanish visa centre, regardless of how long you spend in other countries.

From Article V of REGULATION (EC) No 810/2009 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 13 July 2009 establishing a Community Code on Visas (Visa Code):

  1. The Member State competent for examining and deciding on an application for a uniform visa shall be:

(a) the Member State whose territory constitutes the sole destination of the visit(s);

(b) if the visit includes more than one destination, the Member State whose territory constitutes the main destination of the visit(s) in terms of the length or purpose of stay; or

(c) if no main destination can be determined, the Member State whose external border the applicant intends to cross in order to enter the territory of the Member States.

Attending the conference is good reason for making the trip. Mention of it strengthens your application and can be expected to improve your chances of being granted a visa (by Spain).

Balance the days in France and Spain and neglect to mention (unless asked, of course!) the conference and France should not refuse (decline to consider) your application on the grounds that you have applied to the wrong visa centre. France would be the Member State whose external border the applicant intends to cross in order to enter the territory of the Member States.

Go a step further and arrange more days in France than in Spain (or anywhere else Schengen) and France should still not refuse your application since it would be the Member State whose territory constitutes the main destination of the visit(s) in terms of the length ... of stay.

However, if France finds out about the conference it might decide for itself that that is the real ('main') purpose for your trip and, for failing to declare it, reject your application under 8. the information submitted regarding justification for the purpose and conditions of the intended stay was not reliable (same link, page 55).

It is up to you to weigh the risk of not obtaining a visa, in time, from either centre (and the possibility of a black mark against you) against the cost/inconvenience. That may sound bleak but if, say, you are very confident France would issue you a visa were there no conference involved at all (for example, there are no doubts about itinerary, subsistence, insurance) it could be a risk worth taking. For example, if this is not the first time you have applied for a Schengen visa and have never been refused any visa.

The risk is not so much that you may be denied entry at Paris but that France won't issue you a visa.

  • A rejected application should not result in a black mark; it's not the same as a refused application. If a Schengen consulate decides that it is not competent to consider the application, it does not consider the application. – phoog Feb 23 '17 at 19:57
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    Would France be more likely to choose 8 than Spain? They're supposed to judge whether they're competent before considering the purpose and conditions of intended stay. Granted, they might not follow the procedure correctly, but if they do, and if they determine that the main destination is Spain, they cannot refuse the visa, only reject the application. – phoog Feb 23 '17 at 20:03
  • Sure, applying without mentioning the conference risks refusal for fraud and would be a risky thing to do. If France refuses for that reason, Spain is unlikely to grant a subsequent visa. – phoog Feb 23 '17 at 20:12
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If you planning to visit two or more Schengen countries, you should apply for the visa in the embassy/consulate of the country you will be residing in for most of the traveling days, so you have all rights to apply for a visa in France Embassy since you planing to be 5 days in France, but purpose of visit of course can't be conference in Spain. Just apply for tourist visa in France and provide a proof of accommodation in France for your entire stay in Schengen area, then travel to Spain on conference and other countries. Nobody will cause you problems, becuase with your Schengen visa you have right to travel to other countries in Schengen area.

  • I can modify my plan to have Paris more then! Now French application should be fine? – Ram Kumar Feb 23 '17 at 18:24
  • Yes that is correct. I overlooked 2 days in Madrid, but if he provides poof of accommodation in France for his entire stay in Schengen area nobody will ask him why he stayed 6 days in Spain and 5 days in France because nobody can know his intentions. Plans can be changed during your trip, he will not brake any law if he stay one day longer in some other country. – Puzzler Feb 23 '17 at 18:33
  • Yes Ram Kumar, if you modify your plan just for one day you have every right to apply for a visa in France Embassy. – Puzzler Feb 23 '17 at 18:36
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    "proof of accommodation in France for his entire stay in the Schengen area" would be fraud, since he is not planning to spend his entire stay in the Schengen area. Fraud is very risky. – phoog Feb 23 '17 at 19:56
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    @Puzzler it is fraud if you show that you will be staying in France for the entire time, for example through a hotel reservation, when you in fact intend to travel to another country. People have been denied visas for less, and they have been denied entry into the Schengen area for changing their travel plans after their visa applications; there are questions on this site that show as much. One thing you should learn about this site is that there is a policy of being nice, which means you should refrain from ad hominem rhetoric. – phoog Feb 23 '17 at 22:33

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