Legal pitfalls to watch out for when immigrating to the EU

by Travelex on December 6, 2013

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If you hail from a country outside the EU and have toyed with the idea of immigration for a while, there are a number of things you’ll need to do in order to gain legal passage. You’ll need official documents to prove your identity; these will be shown and inspected by border authorities when you enter the EU for the first time.

The type of documents you’ll require varies depending on where you come from, but they will need to state your nationality, length of stay and reason for visiting. In this beginners guide, we will cover how to enter the EU legally and avoid all potential pitfalls.

What papers will I need?

Regardless of whether you enter the EU via air, sea or land, you’ll need to present a number of documents to gain legal entry. First, you will need a valid passport that is in-date and has an appropriate identifying photograph. You’ll also need to present a short or long-stay visa; residence in the EU for longer than three months will require a long-stay visa and, potentially, a work permit.

Documents are required to show the purpose of your stay and that you have enough money to last till you return. Organisations like Travelex can help prove your financially stability, as the company allows you to transfer money online before you immigrate to the EU. It’s recommended that you set up an international bank account prior to your arrival. This will give you access to the cash from day one and you won’t have to worry about being denied at border control.

Once all your papers have been checked and they meet the necessary requirements, you will be allowed legal entry into the EU.

How do I get a visa?

To get one, you’ll need to apply to the embassy or consulate of the country you intend to immigrate to. The visa is a sticker which is affixed to your travel documentation: it will allow you to stay in the country for longer and may also allow travel to other countries within the EU. For more information on travel visas, visit the EU Immigration Portal.

What happens if I enter the EU illegally?

If you attempt to get into the EU using fake documents or evading border controls, you could be sent back to your home country. Once you have entered the EU, it is still possible that your papers could be looked at again during routine identity checks. If your documents are found to be forgeries, you will get a “return decision.” This is when a court will declare that your stay has been illegal and will oblige you to leave the country.

You won’t be held in detention unless there is a risk that you may flee or obstruct your return in anyway.

The UK government has taken steps to reduce the levels of illegal immigration in the country. The BBC reported that illegal immigrants will find it harder to set up home in the UK under planned laws. The story outlines how the Immigration Bill will require private landlords to check the immigration status of their tenants. It is also illegal for employers to hire you if you’ve not gained legal access to the country.

If you have your sights set on the UK, Emigrate2 is a fantastic resource for learning everything you need to know.

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