What is a Schengen work visa and how do I get one?

I’m planning to work in Europe, do I need a Schengen work visa?

There’s no such thing as a ’Schengen work visa’. You can only work in Schengen nations for long periods if you have a National D-type Work visa, which is issued by the country you are planning to work in - and will not entitle you to work in another state.

However, if you need to travel to the Schengen Area for work reasons and your trip will last fewer than 90 days, then you can apply for a short-stay Schengen work visa allowing you to fulfill your business obligations. You will need to provide evidence that work is the purpose of your trip to be issued with a short-stay visa equivalent to the length of your posting in your desired Schengen Area. You must leave your host country before the expiry date shown on your visa.

If your obligations exceed 90 days, you need a long-stay work visa type D. You may also need to validate it within three months following your arrival.

What different types of Schengen visas exist ?

How do I get a European work permit?

To get a European work visa you need to check the employment visas offered in the country where you wish to work and figure out if you qualify. Meet the criteria, collect the required documents for an employment visa and schedule a visa interview.

What documents do I need to obtain a short-stay Schengen work visa?

If you need to travel to the Schengen Area for work purposes, for example, to represent your company or to meet with investors, suppliers, or potential clients or customers, you need a letter of invitation, specifying your business relationship and what you will be doing during the time you are in the country. It is a good idea for you to attach an itinerary of the business activities to the invitation letter so you can show your work plans.

If you are an employee, you should also include documentation from your employer confirming that you are an employee and details of your work. These should include your job position, dates of employment, salary, and why you must travel for business purposes. It may also be a good idea to get a no objection letter from your employer in your home country.

If self-employed, you will need to provide a copy of your business license, a company bank statement for the last six months, and an income tax return.

From the end of 2023, citizens of countries with a visa-free arrangement for short stays in the Schengen Area will need to apply via the ETIAS system for short business trips. If you plan to work aboard for longer, you will need to apply for a national work visa.

Is a work visa difficult to obtain?

Citizens of the USA, Australia, Canada, China, Japan, India or other non-EU countries must apply for a work visa to work in Europe. Each Schengen member state has its own immigration policies towards citizens of non-member states, tailored to their own needs. This means the ease with which you can obtain a visa will depend on the specific immigration policies of the country you are planning to work in. Your chances of acceptance will also depend on your profession and whether you meet the labor needs of the country concerned. Your future employer may also need to obtain a work permit from the national authorities. Before applying for a work visa you should check that you have a strong chance of matching the visa criteria of the country where you are planning to work.

What documents do I need to apply for a work visa in Europe?

The process varies from country to country, but the standard requirements for an employment visa in Europe are two copies of a completed application form, two identical photos, a valid passport, your travel reservations, travel and medical insurance, proof of accommodation, an employment contract, and your academic or professional qualifications. You may also be asked to prove you can speak the language of your host nation.

When should I apply?

You are strongly advised to apply for a European work visa at least two months before your trip as embassy staff can take six weeks to process an employment visa application. Sometimes the process can be extended to 12 weeks, so it’s good to apply early.

How long will my work visa be valid for?

Most Schengen Area work visas entitle you to work for one year, but most countries allow you to apply for an extension upon their expiration. To do this, you will have to provide the authorities in the country you are working in with required documents, explaining the reason for extending your stay.

How much does it cost to get a Schengen work visa?

Schengen work visa cost varies depending on the country:

  • France work visa costs €99
  • The cost of German work permit employment visa is €75
  • The cost of Spain work visa is $190 for USA citizens, $114 for Canada nationals and $67 for other nationalities
  • These may be subject to change over time and may be revised due to inflation and other costs or policy changes.

How can AXA help?

With time of the essence, it’s better to apply for a work visa as soon as possible. AXA can help by providing you with travel and medical insurance that meets your EU work visa requirements from as little as €22 per week. You will receive a certificate proving you are insured immediately, meaning you can get on with your visa application.

Related topics on Schengen visa types

Frequently asked questions about Schengen work visas

Can a work visa be extended?

Short-stay Schengen work visas can only be extended in exceptional circumstances but national employment visas can be extended if there has been no change in your employment status.

What is the cost of a Schengen work visa?

The cost of a work visa varies from country to country - so you should check with the relevant authorities. If on a short-stay visa for business - a standard fee of €80 applies.

Which EU country gives citizenship easily?

Portugal is the country in the Schengen Area that most readily provides citizenship to non-nationals. Their program allows for citizenship after only five years.