Schengen Visa 1
As many of you may know, we are now in Spain. Well, this is the first part of the story of our trip to Spain, for which my wife needed a visa. The one required, a Schengen Visa, which means that it is valid for most of the countries in the European Union, comes in two types: one for up to ninety days and the other for more than ninety days.
I wanted the latter because I want to write a book (or two) and edit another while there, so ninety days might not be enough.
It took us two and a half hours to cross Bangkok by motorcycle, taxi and train to get there and when we did, it was only to face a disappointment.
One of the stipulations for the ninety-day plus Schengen Visa is that the applicant proves marriage to an EU citizen. So, I had gone to the British embassy website and downloaded a page that says that British Law recognizes all marriage ceremonies in foreign countries so long as they were entered into under free will. Only a British court can legally validate a foreign marriage.
I copied that and took our marriage certificate too. We were refused on the grounds that no British court had validated our marriage.
‘But that would mean a trip to the UK, and we don’t want to go there, we want to go to Spain!’ I protested.
‘It is a common problem for Brits,’ he commiserated, ‘but that line about the British courts was put in there to make it more difficult to take your friend as your legal wife’.
‘But that is a Catch 22 situation…’ I began to protest knowing that there was nothing the poor man could do about it, and that I dared not alienate him. ‘I don’t have access to the British courts in Thailand and they wouldn’t validate our marriage by post… This is ridiculous!’
‘I can allow her to go as a tourist though, if you fulfil these additional requirements. It is what we always recommend in this circumstance. You can always reapply for the visa you want once in Spain’.
I was sure that I caught an ‘am I making myself clear’ in his voice and expression. It was something that he was not allowed to say let alone spell out. I nodded and thanked him and we left very disappointed indeed.
The extra requirements are not onerous: health insurance and a copy of my bank statement, but the implications of her being there as a friend rather than my wife of twelve years are huge. She will lose rights to which she is legally entitled as my wife and she is being denied them, because the British government wants to restrict how she can enter the UK.
With a Schengen Visa as my friend, and they can limit her entitlement to stay in the UK, but with a Schengen Visa as my wife, they cannot under European Law.
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Podcast: Schengen Visa 1