Travel Issues Within Europe’s Schengen Region for American Expats

The US Embassy in Poland reminded American expats this week to always carry current proof of legal immigration status, and a current valid passport, when travelling throughout Europe, including within the Schengen region. The refugee crisis has resulted in the re-imposition of border controls and inspections in many European countries, and policies have been changing on very short notice.

In my experience, many American expats waiting for visa or permanent residency initial approvals and renewals within a particular European country, have freely travelled within the Schengen to other countries while those processes are playing out (even though they are not technically supposed to leave that country), because the lack of border controls in a normal political climate means that government officials will have no reason to know the applicant left. However, with the imposition of border controls and document inspection, it may easily come to the attention of government officials that people have left a country in which an application is pending, which could substantially prejudice the ability to remain. Thus, it is advised that all American expats ensure that their immigration status is legal and proper in their country of residency before travelling throughout Europe. At this point in time, travel through the Schengen region is not always hassle free, and thus American expats in Europe should adapt and plan accordingly.

The US Embassy in Poland’s advisory to US Citizens can be found here.