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I have been invited to speak at EuroBSDCon 2017 in Paris this year. First of all, a bit about me and the conference.

I'm a software engineer based in Hyderabad, India. I am also a contributor to the NetBSD project, which is a volunteer driven open source project. There are thousands of developers all around the globe which contribute to NetBSD and other similar open source projects (such as FreeBSD and OpenBSD).

Every year, the contributors to these projects gather at conferences such as EuroBSDCon, AsiaBSDCon and BSDCan. EuroBSDCon is organized at different places in Europe every year. Last year it was organized at Belgrade, Serbia and this year it is being organized in Paris, France.

I have two questions regarding the visa process:

I am not sure if I should be applying for a tourist visa or business visa. The first reason being that I am not attending this conference on behalf of my employer. Second, I will not be doing any official business there. So, a business visa doesn't make sense to me. But, on the other hand almost every travel agent suggests going for business visa for attending conferences.

Although, I could ask my employer to support me for getting a business visa. But the conference is organized by "The EuroBSDCon Foundation", which is a non-profit registered in the Netherlands. The business visa requirement for France says to "submit an invitation letter from an organization established in France". Which is not possible in this case.

I am hoping people who have faced similar circumstances and travelled would be able to suggest me the correct way to go for the visa.

EDIT: This is not similar to the case of an academic conference. Academic conferences are organized by Universities and attended by students, professors, researchers. While in my case, it is a volunteer driven conference attended by volunteer developers from around the world. Consider it like the various Wikipedia editors organizing a conference to talk about their work to improve Wikipedia (just an example).

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    I am not sure if I should be applying for a tourist visa or business visa. <-- Pl mail back to the conference organizers. They would be able to help. I do it everytime when I go for speaking gigs. – Dawny33 Jun 13 '17 at 9:54
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    Possible duplicate of Attending an academic conference is what type of travel? – Dawny33 Jun 13 '17 at 9:57
  • @Dawny33: It doesn't sound like this is a "speaking gig", and the volunteer-based organization that runs the conference is not necessarily particularly knowledgeable about visa matters. – Henning Makholm Jun 13 '17 at 10:53
  • @HenningMakholm I understand. I speak at confs. like Pycons and DevOps Days, which are also not-for-profit orgs. But, most often the organizers know the visa requirements as they're organizing the confs since several years and dealt with several intl. speakers. So, asking them is worth a try :) – Dawny33 Jun 13 '17 at 11:28
  • @Dawny33 Thank you for the response. I will ask the organizers. But usually PyCon is always organized in the US, organized by PSF registered in the US, which helps when applying for business visa. The EuroBSDCon Foundation is not registered in France which complicates the situation. However, I will email them and ask for advice. – Abhinav Upadhyay Jun 13 '17 at 11:37
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There's no such thing as a "tourist visa" or a "business visa" for France. You apply for a uniform short-stay Schengen visa, and there's only one kind of that.

When you apply for such a visa, there's a question on the application form asking for your main purpose of going. Business, tourism, and so forth are different answer choices for that question -- but they will NOT lead to different types of visa, or trigger different legal rules.

The question merely serves to help the processing of the application, and to help avoid pointless differences in phrasing between applications that do fit neatly into one of the common cases. (For example, if there was only a free-form field, some tourists would spend energy worrying about whether to write "tourism", "vacation", "pleasure", etc. for no good reason. As it is, they can simply check the provided box).

You should be completely fine with ticking the "business" box. That does not, as you seem to suppose, imply that you're necessarily traveling on behalf of an employer, or for doing any particular commercial activity.

But if you can't bring yourself to do that, just tick "other (please specify)" and explain in your supporting documentation what the deal is.

The actual Schengen legislation that consulates must follow when deciding an application does not distinguish between the various purposes of stay. The rules just uniformly say that you must convince the examining officer that you're not going to be an illegal immigrant, that you have the means to support yourself, and so forth. In order to do that you need to show that you have plans for your trip that make sense, in whatever way you have to show that.

  • Thank you. Even Japan has a similar policy which helped when I applied for a visa to attend a similar conference there. I will just select "Other" and explicitly explain the purpose of visit with all the documents that the conference provides. Hopefully that should work. – Abhinav Upadhyay Jun 14 '17 at 6:09

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