If you are an American citizen you don`t need a visa to visit a European Union if you are planning to stay for no more than 90 days. But for those who work and live in the United States of America but don`t have and American citizenship to visit a Schengen area requires to have a visa.



The main rule to be able to apply for a Schengen visa is to apply from a country where you live or have a legal right to stay. It means that you need to have a proof of your resident status in the USA, as a green card or a valid not tourist visa, a work permit and etc.

Here is my experience of getting  a 3 month visa to Spain (this country signed a Schengen agreement and to visit it you need a Schengen visa) from the USA.


I was in the process of changing my status from a visitor to a green card holder, but my green card was not issued yet, the last step – the interview – was not even scheduled. All I had was a letter from the USCIS that I am “in the process”. Also because I was planning to travel, I had a parole form (an Advance Parole Document). I didn`t know when I will be invited for the interview and when I will be proved for the green card and we decided to spend a summer of 2015 in Europe.

My husband and daughter as American citizens didn`t need a visa to Europe, but I, still being a citizen of Russia, did.

I applied for my 3 months visa to Spain in the General Consulate in Houston (because we lived in Texas). And according to the Schengen area rule I had to apply personally.

The documents you need to apply for Schengen visa from the USA.

The first document you need to take care of if you are decided to travel while waiting for you green card – is a travel document I mentioned above.

For getting it you need to fulfill a form I-131. This document gives you a legal right to live the USA and to come back while you are in the process of getting your green card.

Permission to travel while waiting for my Green Card.

Besides a travel document you need to bring:

  • Your financial statement to prove that you have enough money to travel in Europe for the period of time you are planning to get visa for.
  • Your itinerary (you need it if you are planning to visit more than in one city).
  • A proof of insurance. The insurance must cover your treatment in Europe and your evacuation to the USA.
  • A fulfilled application form.

More about the documentation, type of Schengen visa, where to apply and etc. you can find on SchengenVisaInfo or on the web-site of the Consulate of the country you are going to get a visa to.

 I didn`t buy the airline tickets and didn`t book a hotel by the time I applied for my Schengen visa. But I printed the e-mails from the owners of a couple of apartments in Spain, where I asked about the availability of their apartments during the summer (the actual time I pointed at in my application for the visa) and their replies that they are ready to give their apartments for rent.

Another way to prove where you are going to stay could be to book a hotel for the whole period of time you are planning to stay in EU, just one hotel in one place. Be sure that you can cancel the reservation. For these purposes I usually go to Hotelscombined and try to find the best price and the best reservation policy for the hotels in the area I am going to.

In this case you will probably get less drama and less questions about your “purposes” of visiting EU and your exact plans.

My experience also shows that if the Consulate needs more documents, you most likely will be able to send them by regular mail, or even e-mail. It actually happened to me, when I was asked to send an additional letter from my insurance company about the coverage they had for me in Europe.

An additional note: be ready that your passport will be taken, so don`t plan any traveling inside or outside the country while you are waiting for your Schengen visa approved.

How much time did it take to get a Schengen visa?

At the Consulate of Spain I was told that my visa should be given to me in 2 weeks since I applied. Well ass I know it now everything in Spain is “approximately” and nothing for sure. No wonder that in two weeks I didn`t get a passport with my visa. So I sent an e-mail to the Spanish Consulate and asked what was going on. The answer was: “wait”.

Unfortunately I couldn`t wait because in a couple of days I needed to fly to Panama and it would be completely impossible without the passport. Fortunately  I got a good advice from someone who works at another (not Spanish) Consulate. He recommended to send another email to the Spanish Consulate, asking about giving my passport back with or without the visa into it and to attach a copy of the airline tickets to Panama.

This advice worked out perfectly, by the next morning a FedEx man showed up at my door. He brought my passport and the Schengen visa was inside! I also got a following message by email:

«Dear Sir/Madam:


 Your Visa(s) has been issued. If you left a prepaid envelope, we will send your passport together with the visa today, if not, you can come to pick it up from 9am to 1pm, Monday to Friday (no appointment required).




The summary.

Bing in the United States and not having a green card yet, having only a travel parole, I applied for Schengen visa to Spain for 3 months. In 16 days the visa was approved and I spent a great summer travelling around Spain.