The Schengen Agreement, also known as "The Schengen", is an agreement on the free movement among the signatory states, on a common immigration policy and on centralized control of the external borders, which to this date has been signed by most European countries (26). The Schengen agreement was named after the town in Luxembourg in which five European countries first signed this document in 1985 and formed the first Schengen area.
The Schengen Agreement members form the Schengen zone or the Schengen area. There is also the so-called White Schengen List that represent the countries whose citizens can travel to the Schengen zone without a visa. It is necessary to know that visa-free regime applies exclusively for tourist trips. Every other type of residence, related to work or study requires a special visa and a residence card.
The list of EU countries does not fully match the list of Schengen member countries. Iceland, Norway and Switzerland are not EU members, but they are signatories to the Schengen Agreement. On the other hand, Great Britain and Ireland are EU members, but they are not members of the Schengen Agreement, so a visa is needed in order to stay in these countries.
If you are planning to travel only to one country of those on the Schengen list, you must submit your application to the embassy or consulate of that country. For a trip to two or more countries, you need to apply for a visa at the embassy of the country in which you are planning to stay the longest.
There are 3 main types of Schengen visas, which you might need depending on the purpose and nature of your trip:
The Uniform Schengen visa - this is the permission given by one of the Schengen member states for you to move or stay in the Schengen area for a maximum of 90 days for the six-month period from the time of entry. Two categories are valid "A" and "C". Category "A" refers to an airport transit visa that allows you to travel through the international zone of Schengen airports without entering the country. The "C" category provides a short-term visa that allows you to stay in the Schengen country for a specified period of time.
The Limited territorial validity visa gives you the permission to reside in only one Schengen country, the country that issued the visa, or in certain Schengen members’countries that are specified in the application.
The national visa or type D visa is granted to anyone planning to study, work or permanently reside in one of the Schengen countries.
The Schengen visa is issued by any member country of the Schengen area and allows free movement throughout the Schengen zone until the visa is valid and until the specified time limit expires. The length of stay in the Schengen zone is limited to 90 days for a period of 180 days. The first time you enter the Schengen Area, the first 180-day period begins, within which you can stay in that zone for 90 days, counting each day, regardless of whether you use this right uninterruptedly or with interruptions. For example, if you enter the Schengen area for the first time on March 1, then the 180-day period will expire on August 27th. The next day, August 28th, a new 180-day period begins, within which you have the right to the new 90 days of stay in the Schengen zone.
Strict security rules within the Schengen area have unexpectedly caught many incautious travelers who miscalculated the time allowed to stay within the territory of one of the 26 member states. It happens that a traveler oversteps the deadline and is simply returned from a border or from airport, although he or she already has already purchased a ticket.