The Schengen Area, a significant concept for TESOL teachers considering teaching English in Europe, comprises 26 European countries. Established in 1985, the Schengen Agreement facilitated the removal of border controls between member countries, allowing free movement of people. This area covers a population of over 400 million and includes several major teaching destinations. For TESOL teachers, this means the ability to travel freely within these countries, simplifying travel and work across multiple countries. However, it is crucial to note that the Schengen Area is distinct from the European Union; the EU is a larger political and economic union, while the Schengen Area specifically relates to the ease of cross-border travel. This distinction is important for understanding visa and work permit requirements for teaching in different European countries.
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Within the Schengen Area, the duration of stay for visitors is determined by the terms of the entry visa. Upon entry into any Schengen member country, travelers are generally allowed to move freely throughout the entire Schengen Area. The standard tourist visa, commonly issued to visitors, typically permits a stay of up to 90 days within a 180-day period, starting from the day of first entry. This 90-day limit applies to the total time spent in the Schengen Area and does not include any time spent in non-Schengen countries. If you exit the Schengen Area to visit a non-member country, the time spent outside the Area does not count towards the 90-day limit. It is important to note that the visa length can vary based on nationality, so it is advisable to check specific visa regulations for your country of origin.
Once again, this will depend on where you are from, however, teachers with an American passport are allowed to spend 90 days in the area within a 180 day period. Once the initial 180 day time frame has expired, you can re-enter the area for another 90 days within the following 180 day period. Unfortunately, you cannot simply cross a border to another country and then gain a new 90 day visa by crossing back again as you can in some other parts of the world. However, if you gain a longer-term visa at any time during your stay the issue of 90 days and 180 days etc., becomes irrelevant.
As these regulations are subject to change at any time and member countries could potentially leave or join the area, you should check the latest situation before leaving home if you think it could affect your plans. It is also worth noting that some nationalities cannot gain a standard tourist visa on arrival as they need to apply in advance from within their own country. Once again, we recommend that you check the current visa situation by visiting the embassy website of your chosen destination before making any final travel plans.