Last month, a reader from the Philippines asked me what will happen to him if he overstays in Europe. I am from a country where people are dreaming to go to Europe but it is not so easy for us, I tell you. I might be one of the lucky ones who were able to live in Europe (legally) and I don’t understand why do other people think of doing this instead of going through the process. It still feels weird when readers ask advice on whether they should violate a certain country’s visa rules and I will never encourage my fellow Filipinos to take this path.
If you are granted a Schengen visa, you are entitled to travel 26 countries of Europe for 90 days. I know Europe is fun — my early adult days in Milan and Barcelona were one of the best days of my life! Believe me, I didn’t want to leave back then. Europe is a fcking world-class continent and who wouldn’t want to live there? Additionally, the Schengen zone has no internal borders and is often very relaxed. Therefore, overstaying can be really tempting. However, if you are not meant to stay there for more than 90 days, please, please, please, I beg you, most especially if you are from my country, do not ever think about overstaying.
When I lived in Milan, I met a lot of Filipinos (very good people) who are illegally staying in the country. Days were hard as they can’t move freely. Every time we walk the streets or take public transport, they always have to hide or avoid police men coming their way. Their activities are limited: you need a valid identification to process the major transactions of your everyday life (i.e. going in clubs). We had to eat in secluded areas to avoid the attention of the police. I love these people and I always have a high regard for the OFWs I met in Europe. I know they are doing this for their family and I have nothing but respect for them.
Related Article: 10 reasons why OFWs are global rockstars (published on Rappler Philippines)
Having an overstaying Schengen visa has a lot of consequences. Below are a few:
- The Schengen visa has a centralised system. For example, you overstayed in Italy and left the country. Even if you apply to a different country after a year or so, they can trace your records and you will have 0 chances of coming back to Europe.
- If you overstay in a country, this can lead you to pay a lot of fines and on top of that, it can be really expensive. A 20 day overstaying fine can already cost 700 euros (almost $800 USD).
- The most severe punishment of all is entry ban which is usually issued for 2 years. You cannot go back to the Schengen region for 2 years and if the years have passed, you will have very low chances of being granted a visa. It does not mean you are banned in Europe for life but you can still try after the 2-year ban period have passed. If you are lucky, they will give you a visa and maybe this time, you can make things right.
- Or worse, if you are caught, they will have to deport you. I’ve never been deported in my life but I know a lot of people who have and I tell you, deportation is not really pleasant. Having violated the rules, they have all the right to not treat you in a just way. I don’t want to see you not being treated right or being dragged to get out of their country!
Then another question came up: how will I get caught if I am overstaying? Of course, at one point, you will be! My first week starting school in Italy, police men did a lot of ‘random’ checks on me, asking for my passport and legal documents. Imagine, I had to bring my acceptance letter from my University, birth certificate and passport when going to school every single day. I didn’t find that very comfortable but I am pretty sure they are just doing their job. So everyday, I showed them my documents (all of it) just to keep their mind at peace. The following week, they were the same policemen assigned in my daily route (Centrale Metro Station in Italy) and we became friends. They already know me from checking on me everyday for a week. Maybe they even know my birthday! Additionally, police can run a background check so don’t risk being pulled over if you are illegally staying in Europe. There is never a way out.
What can you do if you want to extend your stay?
Apply for a 30-day extension for your tourist visa. Most European countries allow extension up to 120 days without too much paperwork. Just make sure you have a valid reason and don’t lie about it. In the event that you found a job while traveling, I am pretty sure your employer will help you process the working visa but then you will have to go back to your home country to do this. If the employer really really really likes you (I mean 100%), they will do everything for you not to go back, especially if it’s a multi-national company.
Call to Action
Again, I am not tolerating this act, most especially if you are from my country. The Philippines is one of the countries that has a maximum difficulty in being approved to have a tourist visa because we are also one of those countries who have bad records of illegally staying in Europe.
Want to obtain a visa faster and easier? Do it the right way. I believe if 80% (at least) of Filipinos are law-abiding citizens, we will never have any difficulties of entering any country we want, not just in the Schengen area but in the whole world. That will be wishful thinking but it can happen, right? Wouldn’t it be nicer if we can freely stay in a country without worries and just enjoy our time being there? Let’s eradicate the negative reputation of Filipinos living abroad. Share this post to your friends and family and encourage them to take the right path.
Disclaimer: This post is based on life experiences and not in any way affiliated with any government organisation. Should you have additional questions, contact the nearest Embassy/Consulate in your area.
Want to know more about living in Europe or obtaining a Schengen Tourist Visa? E-mail me at trishavelarmino[at]gmail[dot]com. I might not be up to date with the current rules in Europe (it’s been years since I last went) but I will try my best to help you!