European Regulation (EC) no. 810/2009 of 13 July 2009, establishing a Community code on visas, entered into force on 5 April 2010. The Visa Code provides for a harmonization of short stay and transit visas for third-country nationals in the Schengen area (the European Union with the exception of Ireland, the United Kingdom, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania, and with the addition of Iceland, Switzerland and Norway).
The Visa Code will simplify visa applications and will ensure that a visa becomes more easily accessible for those third-country nationals who need one.
With a short stay visa (C visa), a third country national can stay in the Schengen area for maximum 90 days in any six month period.
The Visa Code establishes a uniform form for visa applications. When lodging an application, the applicant must present the following documents:
The third-country national must appear in person when lodging a first application. At this point in time, fingerprints are taken.
In the past, the application for a short stay visa could take several weeks in some consulates. Now, the consulates must decide on the visa application within a 15 day period. This period may be extended up to 30 days and to a maximum of 60 days in exceptional cases.
Furthermore, since 5 April 2010, a third-country national holding a long stay visa (D visa) is also free to travel throughout the Schengen area for maximum 90 days in any six month period. Consequently, such individual no longer has to wait for the Belgian residence permit in order to be able to travel to other Schengen countries.