Visa free travel for Balkan students and youth

Author: Agnes Lima
Photos: Agnes Lima

Starting from this weekend students and youth from Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro could travel freely across the EU including the Switzerland, Norway and Iceland. The visa waiver, which frees the way for travel across the vast majority of the EU (not including UK and Ireland), will apply to holders of biometric passports.
What does this mean for students from these countries? It means that you could easily decide if you want to attend some conference, visit a music festival or go for a short internship in some EU country, but there are also a lot of requirements that should be met.

What do you need to take care of so as not to be returned from the border:

1.    Have a document from the event you are attending (conference/training invitation, festival ticket purchased online, hotel reservation, letter of invitation from a friend).
2.    Have a travel insurance that covers your stay abroad.
3.    Have a return travel ticket.
4.    Have money in cash or better a bank account statement saying that you have at least 60-70 euro per day for each day of stay.

Training or conference

If you are attending a training or a conference covering your costs, then you have to ask for a letter of invitation from your host organization which clearly states that they will cover your accommodation and food. This means that on the border you do not have to show the required money per day on your account. A smaller amount would suffice.

Short study visits or internships

If you want to be an intern for a few months somewhere in the EU, even though you are required to have a visa for engagements for which you will get remuneration, if you do not want to wait in front of the embassies in order to get your visa issued and your internship is lasting 90 days, then you should ask your host institution to issue an invitation stating either that your internship will be unpaid or that they will cover your costs for rent, food and travel. Note, however, that the invitation should not state that you will receive remuneration (fee) for your engagement. If your invitation states that you will be paid for your internship, in that case you would have to have a visa issued because internships you are remunerated for are treated as paid jobs and you need to get a residence permit.

Important to mention is that if you enter the EU you could stay 90 days in a period of six months or if you as an intern enter the EU on 1 March and will stay 90 days then you will leave the EU on 1 June and you would not be able to enter an EU country again before 1 September and stay another 90 days in the next six months.

Staying in the EU zone longer than the mentioned period of 90 days shall result in getting a stamp in your passport, meaning that you will no longer be able to enter the EU or you will be charged with a fine for rule violation.

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