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In June 1985, seven European Union countries signed a treaty in "Schengen", a town in Luxembourg, to end internal border checkpoints and controls. More countries have joined the treaty over the years. Under the Schengen Agreement, common rules regarding visas within the signatory States have been adopted. There are 26 Schengen countries, all in Europe, 22 are European Union members and 4 are non EU members (Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein).
The 26 Schengen countries are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Liechtenstein Sweden, and Switzerland.
It all depends on the place(s) you want to visit. If you intend to visit only one Schengen country, you must apply at the Embassy or Consulate of that particular country. If you intend to visit several Schengen countries, you must apply for a visa at the Embassy or Consulate of the country which is your main destination. If you intend to visit several Schengen countries but do not have a main destination, you should apply for a visa at the Embassy or Consulate of the country which is your first point of entry.
Schengen visas are issued for visits to the Schengen Area on a short term basis (meaning stays of no longer than 90 days per half year for the purpose of tourism, business or family visits) or to merely transit on the way to a non-Schengen country. If you want to stay longer than three months you still need a national long-term visa or residence permit. It is up to the individual countries to set their own requirements.
Non-Schengen countries, on the other hand, maintain their own immigration policies. If you wish to visit a non-Schengen country and return to the Schengen area, you will need a multiple-entry visa. It should be noted that Bulgaria, Cyprus, Romania, Ireland, and the United Kingdom are EU members, but they are not part of the Schengen Area.
As from 2014, a new programme, called Erasmus+, will select new master consortia that will provide new scholarship opportunities. Erasmus+ is the new € 16 billion EU-financed programme for education, training, youth and sport. http://ec.europa.eu/programmes/erasmus-plus/
It is built on the well-known and respected EU brand of the highly successful Erasmus student exchange programme.