This might end up a long post but please bear with me, I'm hoping you guys can provide some advice.

Some background info, I'm an Irish national and my wife is Chinese and we both live in the US (married in the US and Green Card holders). We are going to Spain, Portugal and France for 2 weeks flying on June 30th, my good buddy is getting married in Portugal.

Back in January my wife went to the French consulate to get the Schengen Visa. The french consulate employee went through my wife's docs. During the appointment, he noticed a small rip in her passport, made a joke about it but didn't seem fazed. So he approved the visa application, stamped her passport and went to send it off to the back office for the visa before he noticed we are not travelling until June and said it was too soon and that she should come back closer to travelling. So we were lead to believe coming back would be a formality.

Last Friday, my wife returned to the French consulate and when she sat down with the same French Consulate employee, he refused the application because of the rip on the passport!! And told my wife to get a new passport. My wife was pissed. That rip in her passport was been there for years, she was able to get an Irish and UK tourist visa, Japanese tourist Visa, got a US green card, traveled back and forth to Ireland, UK, USA, Canada, China, and Japan with no issues. So we were shocked that the visa was refused, especially after being accepted initially. The passport rip has not changed or got worse since the initial appointment.

My wife straight away set up an appointment with the Chinese consulate in NYC but the earliest date she could get was June 8th and it takes 15 business days to process so we could only get her new Passport back on June 29th and were are flying the 30th, so we could end up with no time to get the Schengen Visa. The French Consulate employee said we could come back to him and get the visa in 2/3 days which might be too late. We are hoping we can the Chinese consulate can get it done in less than 15 days.

My wife went to the Spanish consulate today but they wouldn't process the visa because France is our main destination.

We have a French Consulate appointment on June 21st where we plan to go most likely without the passport and just meet with them to tell them the issue and ask them how can they help us last minute as the passport could come in any day leading upto June 29th.

I don't know what options we have now if her passport doesn't come until June 29th.

  1. Is it even worth our while trying to board the plane to Spain on June 30th if my wife doesn't have the Schengen visa? Is it going to be a lot of hassle hoping for a long shot of boarding the plane and not being refused at the border?
  2. Does the fact that she has a valid UK and Ireland tourist visa matter? Could we change our flights and stay in Ireland for a night, then fly to Spain?

Any other thoughts or advice would be much appreciated.

  • 1
    Since you're attending a wedding in Portugal, I would argue that Portugal is the main destination. Did you try applying for a visa with the Portuguese consulate? Also, did you apply under the freedom of movement directive (if you did, the application should have been free of charge)? The rules about consular competence are supposed to be somewhat relaxed in such cases.
    – phoog
    May 24, 2017 at 1:15
  • Thanks for the reply. We are going to try the Portuguese consulate next week but thought we would get rejected just like the Spanish consulate. Not sure if we applied under the freedom of movement directive but both consulates we're not going to charge my wife for the applicaiton
    – Irish1985
    May 24, 2017 at 1:18
  • 1
    If the wedding is in fact the reason for your trip then Portugal is in fact your main destination: "The main destination is understood to be the destination where the applicant intends to spend the longest time or where the main purpose of the intended journey is carried out." (From §2.1.2 of the Handbook for the processing of visa applications)
    – phoog
    May 24, 2017 at 1:23
  • Thanks for that info. We are staying in Portugal for 4 nights, France for 5 nights but the wedding is the main reason we are going so the wedding is a good argument.
    – Irish1985
    May 24, 2017 at 1:27
  • @phoog your input are, indeed, answers, and valuable as this is one of the few discussing the 'main purpose of intended journey'... add and I'll upvote
    – Giorgio
    May 26, 2017 at 14:56

2 Answers 2


Your first decision is whether to follow through with the application for a new Chinese passport. If China is like most countries, she'll need to submit her old passport for cancellation when she applies for the new one. If she doesn't get the new passport back in time then it will not matter whether she has a visa. If someone says it will take 15 days to process (and is that calendar days or business days?), and the fifteenth day is the day before you travel, then that is indeed a risky proposition.

Of course, trying to use the old passport in its current state is also risky.

If she is able to get into the UK, as you say, the two of you could travel from there to the Schengen area by train or ferry without a visa if you have your marriage documents.

The other option, as I've noted in the comments, is to try applying to Portugal for a visa, based on the assertion that the wedding in Portugal makes it your main destination. You may be able to do this before June 8th, because the visa must be granted "on the basis of an accelerated procedure."

If Portugal accepts the passport with the rip and that they are the "main destination," they should grant the visa, and you should be okay to travel. If they don't accept one of those things and reject your application, then you can try getting a new passport and hope that it arrives before the 29th.


Is it going to be a lot of hassle hoping for a long shot of boarding the plane

Timatic doesn't mention any special exemptions for spouses of EU citizens, therefore you are quite unlikely to board the plane successfully.

and not being refused at the border?

If you do get to the border you are in luck because Schengen border guards must apply leniency when processing EU family members:

However, if they arrive at the border without an entry visa, the border authorities should give them the opportunity to prove by other means that they are your family members. If they manage to prove it, they should be issued with an entry visa on the spot.

Take your marriage certificate and you should be fine at the border, assuming you manage to get there in the first place.

Does the fact that she has a valid UK and Ireland tourist visa matter? Could we change our flights and stay in Ireland for a night, then fly to Spain?

Whether you're flying from the USA or from the UK is completely irrelevant - the Timatic rules which airlines usually care about your citizenship and visa status, not where your flight has originated. Likewise your UK visa doesn't grant you visa-free entry to the Schengen area.

However if you take the train from the UK you will be able to go through Schengen immigration on UK soul, which would allow you to receive the above-mentioned visa on the spot. So your full itinerary would be: USA → London → Paris → Portugal.

  • The Portuguese consulate took her Passport so hopefully we'll get the passport back with the visa next week without any issues, fingers crossed. Thanks for the replies, hopefully I'll have a good update next week. But after this trip, we'll probably go get a new passport so we don't have to go through this again.
    – Irish1985
    May 28, 2017 at 20:03
  • Thanks for taking the time to respond. My wife got her passport back today from the Portuguese consulate!
    – Irish1985
    Jun 2, 2017 at 15:08

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