What do I need to know about renewing a visa when living in a country in the Schengen Area ?

If I already live in a Schengen Area country, how do I renew my visa?

If you are already living in a country in the Schengen Area, but are a non-citizen, then you will have previously applied for a residency permit or work visa. These differ from Schengen visas, which only allow you to stay for a limited period (90 days in one visit) in the area. Unlike Schengen visas, the conditions and processes vary from country to country, in accordance with their particular immigration policies. The most common reasons for being approved for a residency permit are for work, study, or family reasons. The process and requirements of renewing your visa will depend on the status of your current visa.

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When should I apply to renew my residency or work visa?

You should apply to renew your visa at least two months before your current visa expires. If your current visa expires before your renewal is accepted, you will be technically staying in the country illegally and may face deportation.

Applying to renew a work permit and residency permit

Work visas are granted by the immigration and employment authorities in each country, which often have separate criteria depending on their particular policies. If you are in secure employment, this should be a relatively simple matter, but in addition to application forms, you will require information from your employer, including your social security returns, your employment contract, insurance documents, and proof of your qualifications.

Many Schengen countries’ immigration law grants employment visas on the basis of their particular labor requirements in certain sectors, especially for those who are less well paid or jobs requiring fewer higher qualifications. These may have changed since you were first granted your work visa, so it is worth checking that this list of jobs has not changed with the authorities before making your application. For example, in France, when employment levels may constitute grounds for rejection, your employer may be asked to show they made efforts to find a suitable candidate among its citizens before deciding to extend your contract

Highly qualified and paid professionals may also apply for an EU Blue Card, allowing them to work across the EU.

Renewing a freelance visa

Many countries offer freelance or self-employment visas allowing residency to those who are their own boss. To renew these you will likely be asked to show bank statements detailing your income, tax assessments, your health insurance, and rental contracts for your place of residence and business. If you are a contractor it’s also useful to show your income comes from more than one client to prove your status as a freelancer.

Applying to renew a family residency visa

If you are the spouse or civil partner of a Schengen country citizen or long-term resident without settled status or your own work or study visa, then your status as a long-term resident will depend on their status and proof of relationship. If you’re not a citizen, you should provide proof of their right to live and work in the country you live in, as well as proof of your legal relationship.

Permanent residency cards

If you have lived in a country for a number of years, often four or more, you can apply for a permanent residency card to gain settled status. The requirements for this differ by country, but you will usually be required to prove you can support yourself without resorting to state welfare funding, that you have long-term employment, and have contributed to a pension and social security. You will also likely be required to demonstrate a knowledge of the local language and pass a test showing you know the local legal and social systems, as well as the way of life.

Renewing a student visa in the Schengen Area

If you are on a short-term Student Schengen Visa you will have to return to your home country and apply from there for a long-stay study visa. If you’re already on a long-stay student visa you can apply to renew this to extend your studies, but must show you have the funds to support yourself during your extended study period via documents like bank statements. The amount you are required to show you have in funds may vary from country to country. You must also show you have been accepted on a course to prove you need to extend your stay and provide documentation from the institution where you are studying to support this.

Local differences

It is important to remember that work, study, and residency visas are granted and renewed on a national basis, rather than the more general criteria for short-stay Schengen visas. Therefore, you will need to check that you fulfill the requirements for an application with the authorities in the country you are residing in. In many cases, this will be the same agency with whom you applied for your original visa or work permit - but again, check to make sure, especially if you are changing your visa from a study to a work visa, for example.

Some countries, like Italy, will also require you to renew a separate residency permit with local authorities upon gaining or renewing your employment visa, which will almost always be granted once you have been permitted to stay to work.

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Frequently asked questions about renewing a visa as a resident of a Schengen country

What other documents might I require to renew my visa ?

You will likely require biometric data and up-to-date passport-style photos, as well as identity documents like your passport, insurance documents, and proof of your original visa, as well as employment contracts, bank statements, and proof of residency.

What if my renewal application is refused ?

You can appeal against the refusal or reapply - for example, if you applied to take up a job that did not meet the criteria for obtaining a visa but have now received an offer that does.

How long will I have to wait to find out if my visa renewal application is successful ?

This will vary from country to country and on the nature of your application. But generally between one and three months, so it is recommended you apply at least two months before your current visa expires.