As a consequence, nationals of countries participating in this cooperation may travel freely between the member countries. The same applies to foreign nationals holding a residence permit in one of the member countries, or that have been granted a visitor’s visa (up to 90 days duration) to the Schengen area.
The 26 member states are Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liectenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. It is worth noting that several European countries, including Great Britain, Ireland, Russia and Turkey, do not participate in the Schengen cooperation.
The countries have a common external border. This is the border with countries that do not participate in the cooperation, for instance the Norwegian-Russian border. Travellers crossing the external border are subject to passport control upon both entry and exit. Persons from non-Schengen countries are then subject to a thorough control. It includes, inter alia, search in an electronic register, the SIS (Schengen Information System), to find out whether there is any reason to deny the person entry. This applies for example to persons who have been expelled from a country due to criminal act(s). Persons registered in the SIS will normally not be granted a visa.
A visa to the Schengen area is valid as a visa to Norway and all other European countries participating in the Schengen cooperation. Consequently, persons from countries whose citizens are required to have a visa need only one visa even if they are to visit several Schengen countries on a single trip. Since the visa gives access to all the Schengen countries, their visa policies should be as uniform as possible.
Harmonization of the visa cooperation
Since visas are generally issued for the entire Schengen area, these countries aim at harmonizing their visa policies to the extent possible. The Norwegian visa policy has not been substantially different from those of the other Schengen countries, and joining the Schengen cooperation has not brought about major changes to the Norwegian policy.
If a visa applicant plans to visit several Schengen countries on a single trip, the application should be submitted to the country that is the main destination of the trip. If no single country can be identified as the main destination, the application must be submitted to the country the applicant intends to enter first. Such a system obviously requires a rather uniform visa policy among the member countries.
A common list of countries whose citizens need a visa to enter the Schengen area is part of this harmonization process. As a result of Norway joining the Schengen cooperation, the visa waiver agreements with the following ten countries were cancelled: Belize, Botswana, Jamaica, Kenya, Lesotho, Mali, Namibia, Swaziland, Trinidad & Tobago and Zimbabwe.
Control of unwanted persons
Since Norway now issues visas that are valid in the entire Schengen area, Norwegian authorities must check all persons applying for a visa to Norway against a register of persons unwanted in the different Schengen countries (this register is part of the SIS – the Schengen Information System). This applies to, among other, persons who have been expelled from a country due to criminal act(s). Persons registered in the SIS will normally not be granted a visa. In special cases it is possible to issue a visa that is valid only for Norway.
Read more about Schengen Information System (SIS).