I’m a Philippine passport holder with UK Permanent Residence Card (PRC), more commonly known at the airports as Residence Permit (PR). As non-EEA national, it’s a bit rigorous to travel around Europe on my own with this documentation alone. I get interrogated at the passport control going in or out of the country I visit.
When I and my hubby travelled to Paris in December 2014, I went through the immigration process quickly. No fuss, no question. As soon the Officer saw my Permanent Residence Card, he stamped my passport right away.
However, flying back to UK, I got grilled. He asked which airport I came in, which was the same airport I was going out. Unconvinced by my answers and my husband’s explanation, the officer called his supervisor who came explaining to him what he didn’t know and finally he let me go.
Even when I travel to Italy with my husband, I always get interrogated and I find the whole process exasperating. It makes me feel like, “Am I the first if not the one and only non-EEA national travelling to this country?” I would have thought those officers should have been expert with immigration law and visa requirements.
Having said that, I always feel anxious everytime I travel out of the UK. So I developed a principle which is, “If the airline let me go, then I should be okay.” Usually, airline staff are trained regarding visa requirements. In fact, sometimes they know better than the immigration officer. But of course, the final decision is still at the discretion of the immigration officer.
Question: Can I travel to Europe Schengen area with my Permanent Residence Card – that is without Schengen visa?
Most immigration and travel forum will state that you have to travel with your European or EEA national spouse but that only applies when you have the temporary visa stating “Family Member of EEA National.” With Permanent Residence Card it does not state that anymore. It’s best to carry with you your marriage certificate, copy of your spouse’s passport and certificate of employment with a translation in the language of the country you are visiting.
I have just travelled to Portugal on my own with the pre-knowledge that I didn’t need a Schengen Visa. Europa.com states that Permanent Residence issued outside of the Border Free Schengen Area is not acceptable. Since the UK is not part of it, it is stipulated that I needed to apply for a Schengen visa. However, I relied on the person who assured me that I didn’t need one. So off I went.
When I was checking in, the Ryanair staff asked whether I had a visa or a Residence Permit (PR). I replied, “PR”, and let me go. Before boarding, a different staff on seeing my PR let me board the aircraft. Then I settled down and relaxed, — until I arrived at Porto Passport Control.
Scanning all the pages of my passport, the officer told me, “You don’t have a visa.”
Me: I have UK Residence Permit.
Officer: You have family in Europe?
Me: Yes, here’s my marriage certificate.
Officer: One moment.
He then rang the phone and afterwards he asked me to go and sit down while I wait for him. 5 minutes later he returned to his cubicle and called me back.
Officer: How many days you stay?
Me: 3 weeks
Looking confused, he fumbled for a paper around his desk and wrote 30. I thought he meant I could stay for 30 days and I thought, “That’s better!”
With a huge grin, I said, “Thank you!”
Officer: No! (Wrote again on the paper and showed me) 21.
Me: Ah, yes! 3 weeks is 21 days. Tre settimana.
Officer: Tres semanas, ok. (And he opened the gate to Portugal for me.)
To round it up, it is evident that with the UK Residence Permit, you and I are allowed to go to Schengen countries for up to 21 days only. And don’t forget to bring the following supporting documents: Marriage Certificate, Certificate of Employment with a translation, and a copy of your spouse’s passport.
But I think I would rather get a Schengen visa to avoid the grilling next time.