2

My wife and 3 children are dual USA and EU citizens (Dutch). I am only an American citizen. We all live in the USA. We are planning to live in Spain for about 4 months (111 days) for my wife to teach/work as faculty-in-residence as part of an American university study abroad program. After that, we will travel around Europe for about a month and then spend the summer in the Netherlands where her parents still live. We will be in Europe a total of 220 days. Here are my questions:

  1. My understanding is that I will need to apply, in Spain, for a residency card after 3 months. I will then be permitted to remain in Europe for the remainder of our trip and freely travel around Europe (assuming the application remains pending or is approved). Is this correct?

  2. Do I need to apply for any type of visa for the initial 90 days? Or can I just travel with my family using just my American passport?

  3. Will I need to reapply for a residency card in the Netherlands once we move up there for 2 months from Spain?

  4. To obtain the residency card, we just have to present: (1) my American passport, (2) my wife's Dutch passport, and (3) our marriage certificate. Is this correct?

Thank you for your help. -Brad

1 Answer 1

2

My understanding is that I will need to apply, in Spain, for a residency card after 3 months. I will then be permitted to remain in Europe for the remainder of our trip and freely travel around Europe (assuming the application remains pending or is approved). Is this correct?

This is not quite correct. You are indeed required to apply for this card when staying longer than 3 months. You don't have to apply after 3 months, you can do it immediately after moving to Spain and I would recommend doing that because it can take some time for your application to be processed.

Another subtle nuance is that while the card will make things easier, your right to stay in Spain or elsewhere in the Schengen area is not contingent on it. In fact, the Spanish residence card makes exactly no difference to your status in other Schengen countries. You still have the right to travel freely in Europe (with your wife) or visit any country in the EU for up to 3 months even if you never applied for the card or it got refused.

The thing is that presenting the card is a convenient way to avoid any questions regarding your length of stay or relationship with your wife (e.g. when going in and out of the Schengen area) so it's definitely useful in practice.

Do I need to apply for any type of visa for the initial 90 days? Or can I just travel with my family using just my American passport?

You do not need a visa and can indeed enter just with your American passport. It probably won't even come up but if there are questions about your intent to leave the Schengen area, do point out that your wife is an EU citizen and you are aware of the requirement to apply for a residence card for longer stays.

Will I need to reapply for a residency card in the Netherlands once we move up there for 2 months from Spain?

No you do not and in fact the Netherlands is the one country in the EU where you would not be able to apply for such a residence card (because your wife is Dutch). If you wanted to stay longer than 3 months, things would become more complicated but for two months as a US citizen I wouldn't worry.

To obtain the residency card, we just have to present: (1) my American passport, (2) my wife's Dutch passport, and (3) our marriage certificate. Is this correct?

As far as EU law is concerned, your wife may also be required to prove that she has sufficient resources and health insurance for the whole family or, alternatively, that she is working or studying. On top of that, in practice, I think Spain will require a proof of address of some sort.

6
  • Thank you so much for this response, it is very helpful. I have one follow up question. We will fly directly from the USA into Spain, stay there for almost 4 months. Then, we will fly from Spain to the Netherlands in mid-April, stay there for 2 weeks, then we will take my in-laws car and drive around Europe for a month before returning to the Netherlands to spend 2 consecutive months. Then we will fly from the Netherlands back to Spain to make our return flight back home. I say all that to make this point:
    – Brad
    Oct 5, 2022 at 22:39
  • The custom agents in the Netherlands will see an arriving and departing flight that is 109 days apart, even though we technically won't be in the Netherlands that entire time. Will this cause an issue? Also, the custom agents in Spain will see an arriving and departing flight that is 220 days apart, but they will also see that we spent 2.5 months in the Netherlands, so I imagine that won't be an issue.
    – Brad
    Oct 5, 2022 at 22:39
  • 2
    @Brad there's no systematic tracking of internal Schengen travel. You won't see any immigration officers or go through any passport checkpoints when you fly from Spain to the Netherlands and back. As to the Spanish officers you'll see on your initial arrival, they shouldn't be looking at the time you're planning to spend in Spain because you are (by virtue of traveling with your wife) a "person enjoying the right of free movement."
    – phoog
    Oct 6, 2022 at 3:24
  • 1
    @Brad Your wife, as an EU citizen, is required to register in Spain for stays longer than 3 months (which will include the registration of all family members). A certificate will be issued confirming this, which can be used to clarify the status of the family members since the cards often take a long time to produce. Oct 7, 2022 at 8:57
  • 1
    It may be worth noting that the Spanish residence card may well expire at the end of the 111 days, and the 2 consecutive months in the Netherlands wouldn't be covered by the free movement directive, which could pose problems depending in part on how Dutch law is worded. In practice there is not likely to be any problem, especially since they'll be leaving the Schengen area through Spain, but the situation isn't entirely clear.
    – phoog
    Oct 8, 2022 at 17:48

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.