Digital technology has opened the doors to an age of work flexibility for freelancers and digital nomads, giving them greater work freedom than ever. Freelancers and digital nomads alike have taken full advantage of this, being able to work remotely from virtually anywhere with internet access – including scenic European cities with vibrant cultures that lend themselves well for freelance careers – yet Schengen visas present both options and challenges to freelancers and digital nomads who seek one out. We explore their respective merits here.
Types Of Schengen Visas
Schengen visas come in different varieties, but for freelancers and digital nomads, the most relevant categories tend to be short-stay visas that allow stays of up to 90 days within any 180 days. Here are the main types of short-stay Schengen visas:
1. Tourist Visa (Type C)
Tourist visas are one of the most frequently issued Schengen visas. While not intended specifically for freelancers or digital nomads, they can be used for short-term stays for tourism or visiting friends and family; however, it does not permit work activities.
2. Business Visa (Type C)
A business visa is ideal for freelancers and digital nomads planning to attend meetings, conferences, or events in Schengen countries. This visa enables business-related activities like meetings and negotiations; however, it does not authorize long-term work or employment within this area.
3. Work Visa (Type D)
Digital nomads who wish to reside and engage in freelance work for an extended period in Schengen countries might want to consider applying for a Type D work visa, which allows self-employment and client services within its boundaries. Unfortunately, however, applying for such a visa may prove more complicated and time-consuming compared to shorter-stay options.
Challenges for Freelancers and Digital Nomads
While the idea of working from picturesque European cities may be enticing, freelancers and digital nomads face several challenges when applying for Schengen visas:
Proof Of Income And Stable Employment
One of the primary challenges is demonstrating sufficient income and stable employment. Schengen visa authorities typically require applicants to provide evidence of a stable income source and employment. Freelancers often have irregular income streams, which can make it challenging to meet this requirement. To overcome this hurdle, freelancers may need to provide bank statements, tax returns, or client contracts to prove their financial stability.
Lack Of A Fixed Address
Digital nomads also face difficulty applying for visas in Schengen countries due to a lack of a permanent residential address in. Visa applications often require applicants to provide local addresses when applying, which can become challenging when moving frequently; a letter of accommodation for a visa or using someone’s address within that Schengen country might be necessary in such circumstances.
Insurance And Healthcare
Schengen visa regulations also mandate that applicants carry sufficient travel insurance covering medical expenses and repatriation. While travel insurance policies are readily available, freelancers and digital nomads must carefully evaluate them to meet Schengen requirements as well as ensure access to healthcare in Europe is addressed when travelling there.
Schengen visas usually allow for up to 90 days within any 180-day period; digital nomads looking for extended stays may find this restriction restrictive and will need to leave the Schengen Area and apply again when their 180-day period resets in order to extend their stay.
Options for Freelancers and Digital Nomads
Despite these challenges, there are several options for freelancers and digital nomads who wish to explore the Schengen Area while pursuing their work:
Many digital nomads choose to work in Schengen countries on short-term tourist or business visas. While these visas don’t permit long-term work, they do allow for a taste of life in various European cities. Digital nomads can use this time to network, explore potential opportunities, and enjoy Europe’s cultural experiences.
2. Type D Work Visa
The Type D work visa should be carefully considered for those planning to work in Schengen for an extended period. Although its application process can be lengthy and cumbersome, sponsorship from an employer or proof of freelance contracts in the Schengen Area could ease it.
3. Freelance and Remote Work Visas:
Some Schengen countries have recognized the growing trend of remote work and have introduced specific visas for freelancers and remote workers. For example, countries like Portugal and Spain have launched programs tailored to digital nomads, making it easier for them to live and work within their borders.
4. Visa-Free Countries
While not part of the Schengen Area, European countries outside the Schengen zone offer visa-free access for extended periods to certain nationalities. For example, Serbia and Ukraine allow many nationalities to stay for up to 90 days without a visa.
Preparing Your Schengen Visa Application
To enhance your chances of obtaining a Schengen visa as a freelancer or digital nomad, here are some key steps to follow: