Attending an academic conference is what type of travel?
I am planning to travel to Portugal to attend an academic conference and in that regard needed a short-stay Schengen visa. The visa application has a field "Purpose of Travel" with the following options:
- - Business
- Visiting family or friends
- Medical reasons
- Official visit
- Airport transit
I am attending the conference to present the research I am conducting as a part of my PhD. So "Study" is the closest in my opinion. But I don't want the Embassy to misconstrue that it is for studying at a university in Portugal. In that case, would "Business" be the right option to choose?
Schengen does not have an 'Academic' category, 'Business' is the correct choice; the fact that it's pursuant to a course of study outside of Schengen is 'justification' and you should explain it as such.
When you say "conference" in a general setting, be sure to say "academic conference" if that's what you mean. Businesses hold conferences, too, and they're a completely different thing.
@hippietrail Yes, it's part of the standard Schengen visa application form (annex I of the regulation cited in my answer).
Annex II of the Schengen Visa Code (EU regulation 810/2009) includes a non-exhaustive list of “supporting documents” that sheds some light on the categories. Here are the most relevant bits:
for business trips:
(a) an invitation from a firm or an authority to attend meetings, conferences or events connected with trade, industry or work; […]
(c) entry tickets for fairs and congresses, if appropriate; […]
(e) documents proving the applicant’s employment status in the company;
for journeys undertaken for the purposes of study or other types of training:
(a) a certificate of enrolment at an educational establishment for the purposes of attending vocational or theoretical courses within the framework of basic and further training;
(b) student cards or certificates of the courses to be attended;
for journeys undertaken for the purposes of tourism or for private reasons: […]
for journeys undertaken for political, scientific, cultural, sports or religious events or other reasons:
invitation, entry tickets, enrolments or programmes stating (wherever possible) the name of the host organisation and the length of stay or any other appropriate document indicating the purpose of the journey;
Those are just examples but it's clear that “study” is definitely out, it means something quite different and you won't have any of the documents listed. Both “business” and “cultural” could fit, the former seems pretty safe especially if you are employed by the university where you are pursuing a PhD (do submit documents to that effect).
If you are still unsure, you could also simply check “other” and write “academic conference” to prevent any misunderstanding. It's important to be forthcoming about your purpose and to submit as much relevant documentation as possible but, unlike some other countries, the Schengen area does not have strictly defined visa categories. The category is there to help processing, your visa will not mention “business” or “culture” and it won't be checked at the conference or anything (this does happen in some other places like Colombia).