I was looking through some old emails from readers this week and I started noticing that one subject in particular kept appearing. I counted and nearly 20 readers asked me the following question (or something very similar to this):
How do I stay in Italy for longer than my 90 day tourist visa?”
Friends, this is a VERY good question. I myself asked this back in my amateur immigration days. Heck, I didn’t even know what a visa was back then let alone what the difference was between a tourist visa and other types of visa.
Let’s break it down.
What is a visa?
A visa is a document that gives you permission to visit another country for a set amount of time. It is issued by the country you are visiting. For Europe, the type of visa issued is called a Schengen visa and it allows you visit all the Schengen countries (click here for the complete list).
There are different types of Schengen visas.
- Airport Transit Visa (A) – allows you to travel through the international part of a Schengen airport without actually entering the Schengen country
- Transit Visa (B) – allows you travel a maximum of 5 days through a Schengen territory in order to arrive at a non-Schengen destination
- Short Stay Visa (C) – allows you visit a Schengen country for up to 90 days in a given 180 day period for tourism, family or business
- Long Stay Visa (D) – allows you to stay in a Schengen country for more than 90 days for work, study, retire, etc..
*U.S. citizens do not need to apply for an airport transit visa (A) or a transit visa (B). All they need are a valid passport to function as their 90 day tourist visa.
What is a tourist visa?
All U.S. citizens holding a valid passport are allowed to travel to Europe for 90 days or less. You do not need to apply for a tourist visa; a valid passport is considered your “tourist visa”.
How do I stay in Italy beyond my 90 day tourist visa?
Well, you need to apply for a Long Stay Schengen Visa (D). You can apply for this visa at the Italian Consulate in the U.S.. There are different Italian consulates, so make sure you apply for the one that has jurisdiction over where you reside.
In order to apply for a Long Stay Schengen Visa you must have a motive for doing so. Valid reasons include work (you must already have a job and the employer must sponsor you), study (program must be 20+ hours per week and there must an exam; only certain programs are eligible), or retirement (you must show that you have property in italy and have sufficient funds to retire there).
For more information on how to apply for a study visa, please see How to Obtain an Italian Study Visa.
Remember after (and only after) you must apply for a permesso di soggiorno (permit of stay) card in Italy. For more info see How to Obtain Permesso di Soggiorno.
Movin’ to Italy FAQ is weekly blog series. Every Friday, I post common questions from readers about movin’ to Italy. All answers are based on my personal experiences and knowledge.