Best visa options to stay in Schengen Area for >90 days?

Specifically I’m self-employed with an American passport. Curious if there are any good tips & tricks for staying in Schengen Area more than 90 days, like closer to a year.

Apparently Italy has a freelancer visa, but I’m not sure how it works. Schengen is a pain but I generally just country hop in and out to stay long-term in Europe.

From what I understand, Germany is the easiest place to get a self-employment visa as an American (and you can apply in-country, which isn’t the case with most of Europe). France, Italy, and most other countries also offer freelancer visas, but for the most part you’ll have to apply from the states.

Most long-stay visas require proof of income from outside their country (amounts vary, with Switzerland being at the high end and requiring you to show about $100 per day that you plan to spend there and places like Malta being on the lower end and requiring less than $20k proof for the year). They also usually require proof of health insurance that covers you in their country, proof of a place to live (though a letter from a friend with a spare room should suffice in most cases), and usually a letter or application explaining why you want to stay there. If you get a long-stay visa, a lot of countries also require that you are there at least 6 months of the year.

Aside from Germany, Malta allows you to apply in person in country. And places like Germany will give you a temporary permission to stay while you’re waiting for your visa. You can read about the German process at the Travels of Adam blog.

I have residency in Switzerland, myself, and it’s been an excellent way to stay in Europe, but it can get tricky making sure you spend enough time in your residence country vs. elsewhere. For that reason, I may have to give up my residency next year to spend some time in South America.

My favorite resource (for all the visa regs pretty much everywhere) is a book called Getting Out: Your Guide to Leaving America.

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Your best bet is to apply for the Dutch-American friendship visa. That will grant you residency in the Netherlands and you will be able to live there for as long as you want (it is renewable).


Thanks folks! Super helpful.

If you have savings but not a lot of income (like if you’re getting your business off the ground) I wonder if you could create an LLC and “pay” yourself as sufficient evidence? Or would they consider savings as part of the daily pay requirements, I wonder?

I’ve been looking into this a little bit but several sources have indicated that the process can end up costing several thousand dollars in the end. Are there any first-hand accounts of people who have gone this route?

Sorry, I should have been clearer - at least in the case of Switzerland (and many other European countries I’ve researched, though Switz is the only one I have direct experience with) savings is fine proof. I went in with savings figures and tax statements from previous years when I applied for my Swiss long-stay.

Thanks! Do you know what kind of figure they’re looking for in terms of savings?

Depends on the country (see above - Switzerland is $100 per day; Malta is less than $20k for the year; other countries have other amounts)

This is great info. Does anyone know if you get a long-stay visa in Malta or Germany, is this a Schengen visa (the Maltese embassy told me it was) that allows you to travel in the entire Schengen region for the length of the approved visa? They couldn’t answer the latter but I would think that would be the case. Also, how could a country require that you be present 6 months for the year? Doesn’t seem likely they wouldn’t let you out if you tried to leave? :smile:

My understanding is that the countries that require the 6 months are requiring it for keeping your visa. Most long-stay visas are for a year, so if you leave for more than 6 months at a time, you lose them and/or may lose the ability to renew the next year. It depends on the country, though. Just something to look into when you’re looking at Europe.

And yes, Malta is in the border-free schengen zone. I didn’t go through immigration when arriving in Malta or arriving back in Switzerland after my Malta trip.

So I’d just check and see what their requirements are stay-wise.

Awesome link. If you use this to get residency in the NL does this let you also stay in other countries in the EU as long as you want?

Well if you’re a REAL crazy adventurer, you can just live in Ukraine (Odessa, specifically) like me and no one cares if you over-stay your visa-stamp-welcome. Once I paid fine of $50 when exiting. But other than that, no one cares.

A tip to my American friends: You’re allowed a SECOND passport, legally. Just apply for one. I go in and out of Shengen every 90 days with my 2nd passport (which has a different passport number, picture, et al) and it works like magic. But soon, there will be a fingerprint requirement. But for now it’s good.

Happy Nomading!!!