Published on June 08, 2022 at 12:34 p.m.
It can be difficult to organize a trip to Europe when you do not live on the continent, and the steps to obtain a visa complicate the task. For example, the wait can reach months to obtain an appointment in a French consulate in high tourist season, and there is no guarantee that the long-awaited sesame will be granted. So globetrotters found the solution: “visa shopping”. They apply for a visa in a country in the Schengen zone where demand is less, book plane tickets and a hotel room to prove that they will go there, cancel these once the visa has been obtained – when it is possible – and present the famous visa upon arrival at their true destination. The practice is explained in an article by “Vice”, spotted by “Slate” on June 3.
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Lithuania, a favorite destination for “visa shoppers”
One of the most popular countries for “visa shoppers” is Lithuania, a country in the Schengen zone with the highest acceptance rate, according to a study by AXA Schengen (98.7%). Asked by “Vice”, an employee of Visa Facilitation Services Global (VFS) said: “We happened to have days with 40-50 applications for Lithuania this year, much more than in previous years. It’s a small country, of course we realize that most of them do ‘visa shopping’. »
On forums and social networks, travelers in a hurry, whose application has been rejected or whose passport is not listed internationally, are advised to try their luck in less popular countries. On May 30, a Nigerian Internet user shared on Twitter the story of a friend who did not obtain his Schengen visa, despite having submitted all the necessary documents. “Tell this person to apply in another European country that is not overwhelmed with applications and they might be luckier,” advised another in response to the tweet liked by 2,000 people.
Visa shopping is not illegal, but does present some dangers. The rule dictates that people who plan to travel to several countries in the Schengen zone must apply for a visa in the one where they will spend the most time. If the duration of the stays is the same, the first destination prevails. If they deviate from these rules or arrive from their country of origin in a country for which they do not have a visa, travelers may be questioned by customs officers on their arrival, and must be ready to justify themselves because they could be refused entry into the country.