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Schengen visa for family member of EU citizen (German)

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evil_grrrl666
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Schengen visa for family member of EU citizen (German)

Post by evil_grrrl666 » Mon Sep 24, 2012 9:46 am

Hi Everyone!
I'm a German citizen, married to an Indian citizen and we have been living in the UK for over 4 years now. Things used to be pretty straightforward the last time we got a Schengen visa for my husband from the German embassy in London - simply applied by post with the simple 2 page form (and the difficult questions such as finance etc. weren't required for family members of EU citizens). A few days later they would send us the visa, no questions asked and without charge.

So now that his passport has been renewed and he needs a new Schengen visa I was unpleasantly surprised to find that the German embassy has outsourced their visa processing to VFS Global, and applications are now supposedly taking 2 weeks minimum. Not only that, it seems they insist on charging their admin fees even to family members of EU citizens even though under the EU directive it should be free of charge? In fact this annoyed us so much that we decided to just travel without a visa in August because we didn't have 2 weeks after he had finally received his new passport. However we'd like to get this sorted just to save time having to argue with border control people who might not be completely clued in on European law.

Have the rules been changed drastically since the last time we applied for a visa and we just never realised? Is this enforceable? It seems they are no longer concerned about speedy and free visa applications for EU citizens' families exercising their right to free movement?

Is there any scope in arguing about this or should we just count ourselves lucky we only have to pay a service charge and not the visa fee as well?

Thanks for your help.
L.

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Post by Directive/2004/38/EC » Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:57 am

http://www.london.diplo.de/Vertretung/l ... tment.html
Postal Applications

Spouses of EU and German nationals and certain categories of travellers can also apply by post. Please note that from 31 August 2012 postal applications need to be sent to Manchester:

Joint Visa Application Centre

40 Princess Street
Manchester
M1 6DE

Further information can be found on the VFS website:
http://www.vfsglobal.com/germany/uk/allaboutvisas.html
Please note that no postal applications can be sent to the Embassy anymore. Postal applications that are addressed to the Embassy will be returned to the sender without being processed!!!

evil_grrrl666
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Post by evil_grrrl666 » Tue Sep 25, 2012 9:09 am

Yes indeed I saw that, thanks for the comment though.

And then I clicked through to the information on the VFS site and saw regarding charges the following text:
"All Postal applications must enclose a postal order addressed to ‘the German Visa Application centre’ for the amount of (visa fee £48 + service fee £16 + status updates £ 1.20) total = £65.20 (when applying as EU spouse, service charge of £16.00 is still applicable). "


My question is, isn't it against the directive to charge this silly service charge for something that is meant to be free?

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Post by sum1 » Tue Sep 25, 2012 9:40 am

According to Article 17 in the Visa Code a service fee is possible but I would understand point 5 therein that the visa application can still be done directly with the embassy (and that's independent of the Directive).

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Post by Directive/2004/38/EC » Tue Sep 25, 2012 1:36 pm

Definitely do not pay the service fee. Raise a stink! They are way out of line.

Note that the schengen documents are http://eumovement.wordpress.com/other-schengen/

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Post by EUsmileWEallsmile » Tue Sep 25, 2012 6:14 pm

Concur that service fee should be avoidable. Complain.

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Post by evil_grrrl666 » Wed Sep 26, 2012 8:42 am

Thanks for the advice :) I've emailed VFS stating that I expect my application to be accepted without paying them the service fee. And if they refuse I'll complain to the embassy directly that they should accept my application without involving VFS in accordance with EU regulations.
Let's see what they say.

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Post by EUsmileWEallsmile » Wed Sep 26, 2012 7:36 pm

evil_grrrl666 wrote:Thanks for the advice :) I've emailed VFS stating that I expect my application to be accepted without paying them the service fee. And if they refuse I'll complain to the embassy directly that they should accept my application without involving VFS in accordance with EU regulations.
Let's see what they say.
Good for you, please post back when you have this resolved.

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Re: Schengen visa for family member of EU citizen (German)

Post by EUsmileWEallsmile » Wed Sep 26, 2012 7:38 pm

evil_grrrl666 wrote: I'm a German citizen, married to an Indian citizen and we have been living in the UK for over 4 years now.
An another topic, does your spouse not have any UK-issued residence documents? If he had a residence card for example, he would not need a visa in the first instance.

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Post by Directive/2004/38/EC » Wed Sep 26, 2012 9:31 pm

For future reference, it is also worth being aware of: http://eumovement.wordpress.com/2010/08 ... to-travel/

This works well on ferry and train journeys. And german border guards at the airport are quite aware of it, though it is hard to get to the german airport in the first place if you do not have the required visa.

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Post by pinkpanter » Thu Sep 27, 2012 11:23 am

I had faced same problem:
http://www.immigrationboards.com/viewtopic.php?t=93499

Now I am wondering how and where to complain. I dont want to complain to vfs as they are third party.

evil_grrrl666
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Post by evil_grrrl666 » Thu Sep 27, 2012 3:40 pm

Hi everyone, I've got an update (though in my opinion the matter is far from resolved).
I had a response from the German Embassy in which they state that of course family members of EU citizens can get their visa free of charge by making an appointment directly with them and handing in their application in person.
To this I wrote back saying that due to our jobs it is not feasible to take a whole day off and we've applied successfully by post in the past. The gist of the EU regulations I had sent to them previously is that applications of this nature are to be made easy for the applicant and coming in person is not easy, when clearly there was a proper alternative in the past. I also told them that if the documents we were to present were anyway the same, passports and marriage certificate, why can't we just send them by post as usual.
To this they responded saying of course you can send it by post, please send to VFS however this process is NOT free.

So here we are, back to square one. They refuse to offer a free option to apply by post. They seem to be fairly certain that this approach is in accordance with relevant laws and regulations because there is a free alternative (making an appointment to come in person). I disagree. They took a brilliant system and messed it up by involving VFS.

And also, yes I do know he is entitled to visa free travel (he has a residence card), we did it just a few weeks ago because of discovering this fee and processing time issue for postal applications. I told myself then that it was best to argue at the border because we didn't have much time before our trip and I didn't want to risk the visa coming back late.

But arguing isn't ideal either; they gave me a fairly lengthy lecture upon arrival in Germany that the rules are a bit vague since I am a German national and not any other EU national in their opinion, but "they'll let us in this time while no explicit guidance has been issued to prevent them from doing so". And also I cannot be sure that we will always travel together. I was rather hoping they would just give us a multiple entry visa with a few years validity as they had done in the past, I don't understand why I have to accept a more difficult or costly procedure all of a sudden.

I'm now torn whether to just pay up and send the application to VFS and then argue on matter of principle once we've got the visa and can at least plan our next holiday properly, or involve Solvit right now.

Many thanks for any further insights,
L

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Post by EUsmileWEallsmile » Thu Sep 27, 2012 6:16 pm

evil_grrrl666 wrote:They took a brilliant system and messed it up by involving VFS.
You are not the only one to have come to this conclusion.

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Post by EUsmileWEallsmile » Thu Sep 27, 2012 6:19 pm

evil_grrrl666 wrote: But arguing isn't ideal either; they gave me a fairly lengthy lecture upon arrival in Germany that the rules are a bit vague since I am a German national and not any other EU national
What exactly have you been doing in the UK? Once freedom of movement applies, it can be used to return to your home country. It may depend on how your country implements this rule, but the principle is there.

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Post by evil_grrrl666 » Sun Sep 30, 2012 10:49 am

I've been working in the UK. So yes i know in theory they should not complain when we want to visit Germany for a holiday but i suppose Germany may be one if those places where they are not really happy applying freedom of movement for family members of their own citizens even if they live permanently in another eu country.
In any case, would it be worth complaining to solvit or am i just being petty And do you guys agree that simply offering the less convenient option of applying in person without fee is good enough to satisfy the rules?

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Post by Directive/2004/38/EC » Sun Sep 30, 2012 11:04 am

evil_grrrl666 wrote:In any case, would it be worth complaining to solvit or am i just being petty And do you guys agree that simply offering the less convenient option of applying in person without fee is good enough to satisfy the rules?
Yes yes yes.
You should complain to everyone you possibly can.
Solvit may or may not help. But you should complain.

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Post by EUsmileWEallsmile » Sun Sep 30, 2012 3:17 pm

evil_grrrl666 wrote:I've been working in the UK. So yes i know in theory they should not complain when we want to visit Germany for a holiday
Correct, they shouldn't, but you don't have to "give in" either.

(If arguments are not your thing and you don't want to apply for a visa, you could enter via another Schengen state - just an option to consider).

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Post by evil_grrrl666 » Sun Sep 30, 2012 6:35 pm

I've been working in the UK. So yes i know in theory they should not complain when we want to visit Germany for a holiday but i suppose Germany may be one if those places where they are not really happy applying freedom of movement for family members of their own citizens even if they live permanently in another eu country.
In any case, would it be worth complaining to solvit or am i just being petty And do you guys agree that simply offering the less convenient option of applying in person without fee is good enough to satisfy the rules?

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Post by EUsmileWEallsmile » Sun Sep 30, 2012 6:38 pm

Whether happy or not, they must obey the rules.

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Post by EUsmileWEallsmile » Sun Sep 30, 2012 6:42 pm

There may be some information of interest in this document (page 18).

http://ec.europa.eu/justice/doc_centre/ ... ort_en.pdf

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