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About Donutz

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  1. It is entirely up to the embassy/member-state. Some are generally more relaxed and others more notorious for being tight or difficult. There is no rule that states that each visa must be valid for the same or longer amount of time. Brussels encourages to give 'better ' visas for people with an ever increasing positive travel history. After all it will save both the embassy and the alien hassle, time and paperwork and thus money. But an embassy can simply give the visa for the exact duration applied for. On a future application you may indicate that you are likely to make additional flights in the coming year or so and therefore would like a MEV with longer duration (keeping the 90 days within 180 day window in mind of course). And if the embassy in question has a tendency of being difficult, perhaps decide to move your next holiday to be in a country that is more warm and welcoming.
  2. This is what the guideline on harmonisation says, again nothing about courier service fees etc but just about the standard service fee, still it seems to go against the general spirit of things: Do VFS etc operating in the UK charge these outrageous fees too? Should be harmonized and proportionate. Plus that these service providers are entirely optional to begin with according to the Schengen rules. --- 2.1. Member States’ consulates shall seek to harmonise the following • visa fee, if it is charged in a currency other than EUR; • service fees charged by external service providers in the same location, if they provide similar services. (...) 4.3. The service fee Legal basis: Visa Code, Article 17 As a fundamental principle, a service fee may be charged to an applicant using the facilities of an external service provider only if the alternative is maintained of direct access to the consulate incurring the payment of just the visa fee (see point 4.4). This principle applies to all applicants, whatever the tasks being performed by the external service provider, including those applicants benefiting from a visa fee waiver, such as family members of EU and Swiss citizens or categories of persons benefitting from a reduced fee. These include children from the age of 6 years and under 12 years and persons exempted from the fee on the basis of a Visa Facilitation Agreement. Therefore, if one of these applicants decides to use the facilities of an external service provider, the service fee shall be charged. It is the responsibility of the Member State to ensure that the service fee is proportionate to the costs incurred by the external service provider, that it duly reflects the services offered and that it is adapted to local situation. In this regard, the amount of the service fee has to be compared with the prices usually paid for similar services in the same country/location. Elements related to local circumstances, such as the cost of living or the accessibility of services are to be taken into account. In the case of call centres, the local tariff should be charged for the waiting time before the applicant is transferred to an operator. Once the applicant has been transferred to the operator, a service fee shall be charged. Harmonisation of the service fee is to be addressed in the framework of Local Schengen Cooperation. Within the same country/location there should not be any significant discrepancies in the service fee charged to applicants by different external service providers or by the same service provider working for different Member State consulates. 4.4. Direct access Maintaining the possibility for visa applicants to lodge their applications directly at the consulate instead of via an external service provider implies that there should be a genuine choice between these two possibilities. ------- Source: guideline on hormonisation of Schengen embassies on EU home affairs page concerning visas. You can contact EU home affairs via: JUST-CITIZENSHIP {at} ec.europa.eu Edit: the Spanish embassy misinformed you!! BLS is 100% optional. See the bit above near the end about direct access! Shane on them. I would definitely contact the ombudsman Solvit and/or EU Home Affairs. They are taking people for a ride! Disgusting and unacceptable if you ask me. But things only change if people complain.
  3. I would check with the embassy if that is indeed the return fee for registrated mail. The external service provider should use the fees it agreed upon with the embassy. They can't just charged whatever without the embassy being aware. Now ofcourse the external service provider is optional but it would be outrageous if the ESP would charge disproportionate fees for 'extra' services such as copying, returning mail etc. Especially since ESP will become mandatory if the new Schengen rules ever get accepted. It also seems to conflict with the general principle of a fast, no hassle, free or low cost process for visas applied for by EU family members. See below: You may wish to consult Solvit or EU Home Affairs. I can't find anything about how much an embassy or ESP can charge for optional fees (extra services) but I it just doesn't feel right if the embassy or ESP would make a big profit on extra services. Below is the general spirit in which such EU family member visas should be dealt with, the Handbook for Schengen visas on the EU home affairs page says (among other things): ------ 3.1. Visa Fee No visa fee can be charged. 3.2. Service fee in case of outsourcing of the collection of applications As family members should not pay any fee when submitting the application, they cannot be obliged to obtain an appointment via a premium call line or via an external provider whose services are charged to the applicant. Family members must be allowed to lodge their application directly at the consulate without any costs. However, if family members decide not to make use of their right to lodge their application directly at the consulate but to use the extra services, they should pay for these services. If an appointment system is nevertheless in place, separate call lines (at ordinary local tariff) to the consulate should be put at the disposal of family members respecting comparable standards to those of "premium lines", i.e. the availability of such lines should be of standards comparable to those in place for other categories of applicants and an appointment must be allocated without delay. 3.3. Granting every facility Member States shall grant third country family members of EU citizens falling under the Directive every facility to obtain the necessary visa. This notion must be interpreted as ensuring that Member States take all appropriate measures to ensure fulfilment of the obligations arising out of the right of free movement and afford to such visa applicants the best conditions to obtain the entry visa. 3.4. Processing time The visas must be issued as soon as possible and on the basis of an accelerated procedure and the procedures put in place by Member States (with or without outsourcing) must allow to distinguish between the rights of a third country national who is a family member of an EU citizen and other third country nationals. The former must be treated more favourably than the latter. Processing times for a visa application lodged by a third-country national who is a family member of an EU citizen covered by the Directive going beyond 15 days should be exceptional and duly justified. ----- https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/borders-and-visas/visa-policy_en
  4. @PJ: What TOG said, you can apply at any Schengen embassy directly within two weeks of making an appointment with said embassy. The Schengen rules mandate direct access without involvement of an External Service Provider (vfs and the lot). See the Schengen sticky for details. I also agree with informing VFS and possibly the embassy about the errors that more than 1 staffed made. Mistakes are human but if they double check and get it wrong again, it's a serious boo boo.
  5. Indeed TOG, sounds like PJ faced an less-competent staff member. Though the free and simplified EU family member visa should be well known to the staff of optional services providers such as VFS, BLS and TLS, it would be one reason for me to apply directly at the embassy. Making it more easier to escalate to a properly trained official if the front desk staff got things wrong. Second reason would be to avoid the service fee.
  6. Good. Don't forget parental consent forms either, I don't know if the French ask for this as part of the visa procedure but any minor traveling without both parents can be asked to show parental consent (in the fight against child abduction, human trafficking etc). And atleast the visa itself should be free since the application is for the purpose of a school trip (= educational purposes). And the visa handling fee can obviously be avoided too by applying directly at the embassy rather than the optional service provider (TLS, VFS, BLS). Schengen Handbook for embassy staff: ---- 4.4.2. Mandatory rates applicable to all applicants or certain categories of applicants: Legal basis: Visa Code, Article 16 (4) 0,00 euro: School pupils, students, post-graduate students and accompanying teachers who undertake stays for the purpose of study or educational training ---- Source: https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/borders-and-visas/visa-policy_en
  7. Regarding stamps, they shouldn't be used anymore since the VIS database has been active all around the world by all.Schengen embassies. UK visa authorities also have access to this database . Member states us this to keep track of applications, this in order to prevent vida shopping etc. The EU instructions for Schengen embassy staff from 2010 say this: ------ 4.5.2. How should an admissible application be treated? If the application is admissible, the stamp indicating that the application is admissible (Annex 13) shall be placed in the applicant's travel document (see point 4.5.3 below) and the further examination shall be carried out. (..) If the application is admissible, the stamp indicating that the application is admissible should be placed in the applicant's travel document (see point 4.5.3 below), the application file should be created in the VIS and the further examination shall be carried out. 4.5.3. When and how to use the stamp indicating that an application is admissible Legal basis: Visa Code, Article 20 and Annex III Before the in-depth examination of the application, the "admissibility" stamp – in the uniform format – shall be placed on the first available page of the travel document that contains no entries or stamps. The date of the application, the type of visa applied for ("C" or "A"), and the code of the Member State where the application has been lodged shall be added manually, if they are not fixed by the stamp. No additional data may be added in the stamp and the stamp only signifies that an application has been lodged and has been considered admissible. The "admissibility" stamp shall be used until the VIS has become fully operational in all regions. ----- https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/borders-and-visas/visa-policy_en So stamp or no stamp, the traveller is recorded in a database for all EU/EEA countries to see.
  8. Check the schengen sticky topic near the top of this forum. Some if the replies here are not entirely correct. First of all your girlfriend is the applicant. So it's primarily all about her. You take a back seat in this. She will have to satisfy the embassy staff that she is likely to return to Thailand and not do anything silly such as overstating or working. She will have to show that the trip is affordable, the plans are genuine etc. If you act as a sponsor it's just that. Its still primarily about her. The Financial requirements ( for financial sponsorship or if the applicant has sufficient funds themselves) are different for each member state. You need to apply at the country that is your main destination. Only if there is no clear main destination, then you can apply at the Schengen embassy of first entry.
  9. If you need a book to help you with the obvious factors that matter in a relationship, you are going to be in for a tough ride no matter what. In any relationship: 1. Communicate. Keep on communicating, don't take anything for granted. People change over time. Keep on communicating. About your feelings, desires and everything else. 2. Being a bit flexible, trying to put yourself in the position of others. Being kind and caring and not some selfish **** that puts 'me' first far above anything else. 3. Better find a partner that you share common things with. It's certainly helps if your characters are not too far apart, social class not too far apart, education (Or intellectual capacity if you like) not too far apart, age not too far apart. Cultural difference are a rather minor thing if your personalities are compatible and you keep on communicating. As for the training centre: why is it one sided? It only aims at Thai women and the dangers and struggles that they may face. What about the foreign men? Same sex couples? Thai men with a foreign girl? Tips for the foreigners? What exactly does the clinic contribute compared to a clinic that advices women (and men?) About general dangers, issues and problems they may face in a relationship? It's a good thing to remind women not to put up with an abusive husband (And what to do if he is an abusive bastard) but his nationality is irrelevant. So what exactly does this add what a general help centre or hotline couldn't achieve?
  10. Indeed TOG, PST since you are a Brit and you are married to a Thai, she can take the expedited Schengen visa route (Schengen visa for a family member of an EU/EEA natiomal) . Which means no visa fee, minimal paperwork and no insurance required. But obviously you may wish to get proper insurance (for all of you ) anyway. You never know and it only costs a small sum of money.
  11. For the free, expidited visa under EU law the medical travel insurance is not required. So the embassy would not have made a problem of the 'missing' insurance if the staff was properly instructed. For a regular Schengen visa such insurance is mandatory and need a to be provided as part of the application. Such insurance should be done via a company that refunds the insurance fee incase of a visa refusal. Details on the regular and expidited Schengen visa procedure can be found in the Schengen sticky topic near the top of this forum.
  12. That exclusion refers to 'EEA or Swiss' national. So the EU/EEA permit is not for you. Under European law (directive 2004/38 on freedom of movement for EU/EEA nationals), the relaxed visa and residency rights only apply to the family of an EU/EEA/swiss nationals from an other member state. Thus Britons can't use this to take their family to Britain, a Dutchy can't use this to take their family member to the Netherlands. Where as a Briton could take her Thai family member under these rules to NL and Dutch national could take their Thai family to the UK under these relaxed rules. The only exception to this are those who made used of their rights by living in an other member state ( the Sirinder Shin route or EU route). Perhaps it sounds silly but way back this was set up because a European from country A could get their foreign family to live with them or visit them with few obstacles or paperwork. Am in some countries the family would almost sorta get a passport for their foreign family on the spot (exaggerating a bit here obviously). To ensure that European from other countries would also be able to be the their family along they created these rules so European from countries B, C and D would also be able to get to country A without too much paperwork. But since then most countries have made far stricter visa and immigration rules for their own citizens with foreign family (Person A living in country A this racing stricter rules than persons B, C And D living in country A).
  13. As the Schengen sticky will also instruct you: On the website of EU Home Affairs there is a page on visa policies: https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/borders-and-visas/visa-policy_en There you will find a PDF handbook for Schengen embassy staff: Operational instructions for the application of the Visa Code are further specified in the Handbook for the processing of visa applications and the modification of issued visas In it, under section 3, the simplified VIP like procedures are explained in simple words and Q&A for Schengen embassy staff. Page 81: PART III:SPECIFIC RULES RELATING TO APPLICANTS WHO ARE FAMILY MEMBERS OF EU CITIZENS OR SWISS CITIZENS....................... 81 There you could double check to verify the intro from 7by7, me and some others about only the handful of stuff you need for the free visa.
  14. Again: people with the EU/EEA family member remark on their permit don't need a visa at all. Those are given to Sirinder Sghin cases: 1) the partners of non British EU nationals who make use of the EU rights in the UK 2) the partners of Britons that made use of their EU rights by living elsewhere in Europe together and moved back to the UK. Your partner is entirely eligible for the free and simplified procedure Schengen visa with her regular UK permit! And in fact she is so too if she has no residency in the UK but just staying on a visitor visa or even with no legal UK visa or residence status at all. I'm kinda frustrated that you seem to be going down the wrong route due to wrong information being given to you by a person halfway down this topic while most of the rest of us explained you that your wife can get the free Schengen visa (and without services fee too if she would apply at the embassy rather than the optional service agencies BLS , TLS, VFS etc)
  15. Anything over 3 months in a row would be seen as migration. So you would have to follow the instructions for a residence permit rather than a visa. But this permit too could be obtained under relaxed EU freedom of movement rules. I don't know about Portugal channels and exact procedures for immigration though. So would best check the Portuguese immigration department. From other topics on this forum about migrating to Spain, France, Netherlands etc you might be able to get a general idea: move there with a C (short stay) or D (immigration) Schengenvisa applied for as an EU family. Show evidence of sufficient income so you won't be an unrrasonable burden to the state, don't be a national security risk and you should be able to get it all sorted out with minimum hassle and paperwork. In theory.. But I have no clue how the Portuguese operate.