Working abroad is an incredible opportunity to boost your CV and take your career to the next level.
A work experience in Europe will improve your flexibility and adaptability, expand your professional network, increase your cultural awareness, and hone your language skills.
Besides, you can also earn a higher salary and some awesome employee perks.
So, let’s admit it.
Working in a European country is a dream of many.
However, you must first overcome one obstacle: getting a Work Visa for Europe.
Of course, we are not saying that getting a Work Visa for Europe is necessarily a hard-won process.
But for sure, it is more difficult getting a Schengen Work Visa than getting a regular tourist Visa.
However, if you’re adamant about working abroad, we have prepared a comprehensive guide about the Schengen Work Visa requirements and application process.
Table of contents:
1. Europe Work Visa And Permit: General Information
It is a common misconception that Embassies issue Schengen Employment Visas for applicants willing to work in the EU.
The Europe Work Visa does not actually exist.
Yes, you read it right.
If you plan on working in Europe, you can only apply for a type-D National Visa.
If you are not an EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen, you need to get a Visa to stay in a Member State for more than 90 days.
A type-D National Visa enables you to spend more than 90 days in the Schengen Area.
Typically, Embassies issue this Visa type for study and research, work, and family reunion purposes.
The type-D National Visa is the only Visa that allows you to relocate and work in Europe legally.
“But Embassies issue short-stay Schengen Visas for work purposes!”
Not actually. Embassies can issue a short-stay Schengen Visa for business purposes, which is a different Visa type.
A short-stay Schengen Business Visa allows you to conduct business activities within the Schengen Area, such as meeting investors, suppliers, or potential customers.
Anyway, this Visa type does not enable you to relocate and work in Europe as a permanent or temporary resident.
In rare situations, you can also get a short-stay Schengen Visa for work (employment) purposes.
However, it can be more challenging to find a European employer who needs you for a maximum of 90 days (the maximum duration of stay of a regular Schengen Visa).
Before we continue, we believe that you should have a clear understanding of the difference between a short-stay and a long-stay Schengen Visa for work purposes.
|Type-C short-stay Schengen Visa for business/work purposes||Type-D long-stay National Visafor business/work purposes|
|● You are not permitted to have (or seek) long-term employment while holding this Visa type.||● If the Embassy has issued your Visa for employment purposes, you can work in Europe on a long term basis.|
|● It allows you to spend a maximum of 90 days over a 180-day period in the Schengen Area.||● It allows you to spend up to 365 days in the Schengen Area (after one year, you can extend your Visa if necessary).|
|● The Embassy requirements for this Visa type are roughly the same (the list of mandatory required documents varies by Embassy, but as a general rule, all Schengen Countries have common short-stay Visa policies).||● The Embassy requirements depend on each Member State’s immigration policies and national law.|
|● Most of the time, Embassies issue this Visa type to applicants willing to conduct business activities in Europe (because it is more difficult for non-Eu citizens to find employment in Europe for up to three months).||● You can get a National Visa for employment (if you already have a job offer) or self-employment (if you wish to establish a business in Europe or work as a freelancer).|
|● It enables you to conduct business activities without applying for a work or residence permit.||● Your national Visa is not enough so that you can legally work in Europe. Most Schengen countries require you to get a work and residence permit as well.|
To apply for a long-stay National Visa for work purposes, you must first find an employer and sign an employment contract.
It would be best if you did not say to the Embassy officers: “I need a Schengen Visa to find employment opportunities in Europe“.
No-no. In this case, the Visa officers can automatically reject your application.
Only a few European countries (e.g., Germany) allow you to apply for a Job Seeker Visa that enables you to stay in the country for a specific period and look for a job.
For example, the Embassy of Germany in India has published a list of Job Seeker Visa requirements.
As a general rule, non-EU citizens need to find a job listed as a “shortage occupation”. A shortage occupation is a job for which there is a lack of suitable applicants within the EU.
As far as your work permit is concerned, there is no need to worry. In most Schengen countries, your future employer will carry out the entire application process (meaning that you must provide a list of documents to your employer, and they will get the work permit for you from the Ministry of the Interior of their country).
Once your employer gets your work permit, you can apply for your long-stay Employment Visa.
If you are self-employed or a freelancer, you may not need a work permit.
However, you can check out a Member State’s official government websites (e.g., Ministry of Interior official website) to ensure you do not need a work permit.
For example, according to the official source of information for doing business in the Netherlands, ”Freelancers/self-employed professionals from outside an EU, EEA member country and Switzerland do not require a work permit if they are truly self-employed. They do, however, need a residence permit allowing residence for a self-employed professional or a residence permit including the endorsement ‘Work is freely permitted’ (Arbeid is vrij toegestaan).”
Thus, it is highly likely that you need a residence permit once you arrive in Europe with your National Visa.
According to the European Commission, “the right of third-country nationals to work in an EU/EFTA Member State mainly depends on the laws of that EU/EFTA Member State. EU Member States differ as to whether they issue a residence permit in addition to a work permit, and/or whether they issue a joint residence/work permit. All EU Member States have provisions in place outlining certain migrants who may be exempt from the obligation to obtain a work permit or for whom facilitated admission procedures are in place”.
Important: If you are a highly skilled worker, you may be eligible for a European Blue Card.
The Blue Card is a special permit for highly skilled professionals interested in working in Europe and gives you the right to live and work anywhere in Europe.
All EU Member States, outside of Denmark and Ireland, issue the EU Blue Card.
The conditions you must meet to get a blue card are:
- Non-EU citizenship
- Educated or professionally experienced (having a university or higher degree)
- You must have an employment contract or binding employment offer for at least one year (the EU Blue Card does not apply to self-employed workers)
- Your annual gross salary must be high (at least one and a half times the national average wage – except when the lower income threshold is applicable)
- You must hold the necessary required documents, such as a valid passport and travel health insurance for yourself and any relatives travelling with you
- You must prove that you fulfil the legal requirements to practice your profession
For further details about the EU Blue Card, please click here to check out the official website of the European Commission.
2. How To Get A Schengen Visa To Work In Europe
In this section, we will share the Embassy requirements for a European Visa for work purposes.
As we mentioned previously, you can get three types of “Work Visas”:
- Type-C short-stay Schengen Visa for business and work purposes
- Type-D long-stay National Visa for employment
- Type-D long-stay National Visa for self-employment
If you need a type-C short-stay Schengen Visa for business and work purposes, please check out this link to learn more about your Visa requirements and application process.
If you need a type-D long-stay National Visa for employment and self-employment, you should read the requirements list in this post.
Please note that the below requirements for a type-D long-stay national Visa are only basic requirements.
Each Member State has its own national law and long-stay Visa required documents!
|Type-D long-stay National Visa for Work – Requirements|
|● Application form – Every Member State may have its own application form. For example, you can find the National Visa application form for Italy here.
Some Embassies may also require two application forms instead of one.
|● Two passport-sized photos – Some Embassies may require one photo or more than two. It all depends on the Embassy where you are submitting your application.|
|● Valid passport – Your passport must have at least two blank pages, and it must not be older than ten years.
Your passport must also have at least three months of validity beyond the date you plan to exit Europe.
|● Cover letter – Your personal cover letter must be addressed to the Embassy and outline your travel purpose and other relevant details about yourself and your stay in Europe.|
|● Proof of residence – You can submit a document or utility bill as proof of residence in the country where you are applying for your Visa.|
|● Curriculum vitae – Your resume must indicate your academic qualifications and work experience.|
|● Health travel insurance – If you have signed a work contract with a European employer, they should provide you with health insurance.
Most of the time, you need to get Schengen Travel Medical Insurance covering the entire Schengen Area and has a minimum of 30,000 EUR coverage.
|● Proof of transport – For long-stay Visas, you do not need to provide a return ticket. However, you must submit all of your confirmed travel tickets (e.g., flight, ferry, train, bus, taxi, etc.).|
|● Proof of accommodation – You must submit proof of accommodation for the entire stay in the Member State where you plan on working.
For example, you can submit hotel confirmed bookings or reservations, a rental agreement, a sponsorship accommodation letter from someone who will provide you with accommodation, etc.
|● Proof of funds – The most common proof of funds that Embassies require you to submit is your bank statements for the last six months. However, every Mission may request additional documents to ensure you have enough means of subsistence.
Furthermore, every Member State has different requirements concerning the minimum amount you must have in your account when applying for a long-stay National Visa.
|● Proof of paid Visa fee – The National Visa fee varies by Member State. For example, the National Visa fee for Italy is 116 EUR, while the National Visa fee for France is 99 EUR.|
|● Proof of clean criminal record – Most embassies require you to submit your criminal record to prove that you have a clean background.
However, please note that this is a mandatory requirement for most employers as well (meaning you may need to show your criminal record to your future European employer).
|● Proof of qualification – Some Embassies may require copies of your diplomas, certificates, mark sheets, or anything that proves your qualifications.|
|● Proof of language knowledge – Some Member States want to ensure you meet a specific knowledge level of their official languages. In this case, you should submit a written certificate proving your language proficiency.|
|● Recommendation letters from previous employers – This is not a mandatory requirement for all embassies.
However, we recommend you submit your recommendation letters from previous employers to make a good impression on the Visa officers.
|If you are applying for a National Visa for employment:
● Work contract – You must submit a copy of the signed work contract that outlines the terms, conditions, and employment period for the entire time you will stay in a Member State.
|If you are applying for a National Visa for self-employment:
● Evidence of a business/freelance plan – You should submit a business or freelance project highlighting the business activities you intend to carry out in Europe.
● Contracts or commissions from companies – As a freelancer or business owner, you need to submit contracts or letters of commitments from future customers or employers.
● Licenses, registrations, or professional authorisation – The required licenses, registrations, or authorisations depend on national laws and the job industry. For example, you may need to submit an authorisation if you plan on working in a field that requires prior expertise, such as medicine or law.
● Profit and loss statements – Your profit and loss statements must outline your forecasts about your business activity’s profit and losses.
● Proof of adequate pension plan – Depending on your age, some Embassies may ask you to submit evidence of your pension plan.
As we mentioned previously, every member state may require additional documents depending on their national laws.
You may think: “That’s great! Now I have an overall idea of the long-stay National Visa requirements. But what steps do I need to take to go through the application process?”
The type-D national Visa application process is similar to the regular short-stay Schengen Visa application process.
The only difference is that the Embassy officers can take up to three months to process your employment Visa application (while for regular Schengen Visas, Embassies can take up to 15 working days to process applications).
For further details about the Schengen Visa application process, please visit this link.
We are aware that the National Visa application process may seem daunting.
However, the Visas Association team is here to assist you and ensure your trip to Europe will run smoothly.
If you have any questions concerning the Schengen Visa requirements and application process or are not sure about the Visa that is right for you, do not hesitate to contact us.
We would be happy to answer any of your questions and provide you with a FREE Schengen Visa consultation report to determine the Visa type that suits you best!
Also, if you are still exploring the European labour market and seeking employment visa programs, we recommend you check out The European Job Mobility Portal (EURES) that offers incredible work opportunities!