Are you a Canadian Permanent Resident? Planning to travel to Europe soon but don’t have a Canadian passport? Here, we will tell you what you need to know about getting a Schengen visa as a Canadian Permanent resident.
What is a Schengen visa?
A Schengen visa is a short stay visa that allows its holder to move around in the Schengen area, that is, in Europe. The Schengen area covers 26 countries (“Schengen States”) without border controls between them.
All non-Canadian citizens who do need a visa to enter the Schengen Area, must have a valid permanent resident card or valid multiple entry visa for Canada with at least three months validity after returning from the Schengen area. If your Canadian visa has expired, you should have it renewed before applying.
Schengen visas can be issued by any country within the Schengen area. Travelers must apply to the embassy or consulate of the country which they intend to visit.
If you wish to visit multiple countries in the Schengen area, you should apply to their main destination’s embassy or consulate. If the main destination cannot be determined, the traveler should apply for the visa at the embassy of the Schengen country of first entry. Often, external service providers are contracted by certain diplomatic missions to process, collect and return visa applications.
Schengen visa applications may not be submitted more than three months prior to the proposed date of entry into the Schengen area. In other words, you can send in your application up to 90 days before your trip. All countries’ embassies may require applicants to provide biometric identifiers (ten fingerprints and a digital photograph) as part of the visa application process to be stored on the Visa Information System (VIS). This doesn’t apply to children under the age of 12. You must apply in person and are subject to an interview by the consular officers.
How long does it take?
Providing that the visa application is admissible and there are no issues with the application, a decision must be given within 15 calendar days of the date on which the application was made.
What countries can I visit in the Schengen area?
Like we said before, the Schengen area covers 26 countries. That is, 22 EU member states and four non-EU countries who are members of EFTA (European Free Trade Association). The countries in the Schengen area are: Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland and Sweden. The other four countries are Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. All of these are covered by the Schengen visa. As a permanent resident you can have access to them all with the visa.
You will generally need the following documentation for a Schengen visa:
- Entry visa application form which you can access at the official embassy’s website of the country you intend to visit.
- A recent passport-size photograph;
- A valid travel document: original of your valid permanent resident card or valid multiple entry visa for Canada.
- A return ticket (or booking) or evidence that the applicant has their own means of transport;
- proof of sufficient means to support yourself. If applying to Germany for instance, you need a recent statement of Canadian bank account for the last three months that shows funds of at least 70CAD that are equivalent to 45€ per person per day, or traveler’s cheques.
- health insurance covering a minimum of €30,000 for emergency hospitalization and repatriation expenses, valid throughout the Schengen area;
- you must book an appointment to submit your application in person. You may apply three months before the start of your planned trip at the earliest.
The visa office may also request other documentation depending on your case. For instance, the German embassy requires you attach a cover letter explaining the purpose of your visit to Germany. If you are going on a business trip, you will be required to present an Invitation letter from the business partner confirming the business trip and schedule of your visit, including the name and full address of the contact person in the intended country of visit. You should contact the visa office authorized for your area for more specific information.
How much does it cost?
Different countries have different processing fees for their visas, ranging anywhere from €60 – €100. Confirm with the embassy or consul office of your intended country.
Some European countries have restrictions for Permanent Residence Card holders who were refugees before. If you had refugee status on gaining entry into Canada, you should note that your movement to some EU member countries may be limited.
However if you have a Canadian travel Document for non-Canadians (also called CRTD Convention refugee travel document) you don’t need a visa to enter Europe.
Also, individuals of any nationality who are family members of EU/Schengen nationals and are in possession of a residence permit indicating their status are exempt from having to get a visa when entering the European Union or Schengen Area when they are accompanying their EU/Schengen family member or are seeking to join them.
Embassies advise to beware of working with brokers or agencies. The German embassy specifically states “These individuals and organizations are NOT able to secure appointments with us. The only cost involved is the visa fee charged by the Embassy, Consulate General or Consulate. Applications, checklists and appointments are provided free of charge.”
Try to verify information on your intending country’s official embassy website, or contact them via email. For example, for all visa processes for Germany, go to https://canada.diplo.de/ca-en/consular-services/visa