What is the difference between the European Union and the Schengen Zone?
Even though the Schengen Area is under the purview of the European Union (EU), the two are not the same. To simply put it, adhering to the Schengen Area is not exclusive to EU countries, as the Union welcomes other countries to join if they meet its requirements. Regardless, out of the 27 Countries in the EU, only 4 are currently not participating: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ireland, and Romania.
Bulgaria and Romania are currently in discussions to join, even starting to implement Schengen-adequate border controls in March 2024. Cyprus is also in consideration, though at an arguably earlier stage. Ireland, due to its Common Travel Area agreement with the United Kingdom, operates its own visa and border policies.
The remaining 23 countries: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden all participate in the Schengen Area.
The European Free Trade Association (EFTA), consisting of Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, countries not within the EU, also participate in the Schengen Area, bringing the total number to 27 Countries in the Area.
The Schengen Visa 90-180 Rule Explained
The Schengen Visa 90-180 rule regulates short-term stays. Any travel to the Schengen Area by a third-country national under 90 days is considered a short-term stay. If the intent is to surpass 90 days, a long-term visa or a residency permit must be acquired.
If an individual is staying only for the short-term, then the day they first step into any of the countries within the Schengen Area is day 1 of 180.
Here is a Schengen 90-day rule example: landing in Athens on January 1st and staying in Greece for 90 days in a row means having to leave the Schengen Area by March 31st.
Alternatively, leaving Greece and returning as many times as desired, if the combined total time of the visits does not exceed 90 days, is also possible until June 29th, which is day 180.
Leaving Greece to go to France, Spain, Portugal, or any other Schengen state, does not reset the counter, as the 90-day rule considers the Schengen Area territory as one.
After spending a total combined time of 90 days in Greece, or any other country in the Schengen Area, means having to wait another 90 days before being able to return. This period of 90 days starts to count one day after the end of the previous 180 days.
Following the example at hand, day 1 of the second set of 90 days begins to count on June 30th, meaning a return to the Schengen Area would only be possible from September 28th onward.
In 2024, the Schengen Area is toughening the entry requirements, with new “Smart Borders” policies, making it more difficult for third-country nationals to enter the Schengen Area.
Residency by Investment Programs: The Best Schengen Solutions
Traveling the Schengen Area without any restrictions on time spent in each country is a privilege only afforded to Citizens of the participating member states. If you want this for yourself, you must first become a Resident in a Schengen country and begin the journey toward a brighter future.
The fastest way to obtain Residency in Schengen countries is through investment immigration programs. The best can be found in Greece and Portugal, in the form of the Golden Visa and the D2 Visa, respectively.
In Greece, Residency is achievable via an investment in Real Estate and acquiring property at a minimum of €250,000 in most of the country, or €500,000 in select key regions, such as the Athens city center, Thessaloniki, Santorini, and Mykonos, among others.
You can become a Resident in Portugal through the D2 Visa, a program targeting investment-driven individuals to operate a business in Portugal. Investment Visa boasts exclusive D2 Visa packages in Portugal, starting at €280,000.
Both the Greece Golden Visa and the Portugal D2 Visa enable benefits such as family inclusion, and visa-free travel to the Schengen Zone. With both countries in the EU, Greece, and Portugal are among the safest in the world to live in, with an affordable quality of life and cost of living, and excellent healthcare systems. Citizenship awaits at the end of 7 years in Greece and 5 years in Portugal, allowing you to never worry about the 90-180 rule ever again.
Investment Visa is proud to announce we have curated D2 Visa packages with the best Residency solutions, the fastest track to Citizenship. Contact us today to find more information about these exciting new opportunities!