European Commission: New EU Visa RulesSociety | February 1, 2020, Saturday // 18:56| views
New EU rules on short-stay visas apply worldwide from 2 February 2020. They make it easier for legitimate travellers to apply for a visa to come to Europe, facilitating tourism, trade and business, while providing more resources for countering irregular migration risks and threats to internal security.
Which non-EU countries do the new rules apply to?
The changes apply to travellers from all countries which need visas to travel to the EU. Currently, citizens from 105 non-EU countries or entities are required to have a visa (full list available online). Nothing changes for countries benefitting from visa-free travel to the EU because the new rules do not apply to their citizens.
Which destination countries are covered by the update?
The rules cover short-stay visas for the 22 EU countries that are part of the Schengen area (Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden), as well as for four associated countries: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.A uniform short-stay visa issued by one of these countries covers travel throughout the 26 Schengen countries for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.
Why change the EU visa rules now?
The European Parliament and the Council agreed the changes in June 2019.
The tourism and travel industry plays a key role in the European economy. EU Member States are among the world's leading tourist destinations – the number of visa applications processed has increased considerably over the last 9 years and continues to expand. Since 2009, the number of applications for EU visas has risen by 57% – from 10.2 million to over 16 million in 2018. At the same time, visa application procedures have not changed since 2010 and there was a need to make them less cumbersome, while maintaining the same level of security and control.
Visa fees have not been adapted since 2006 and a €60 fee no longer covers the costs of processing applications, in particular due to inflation.
Finally, by creating a link between visa procedures and cooperation on readmission, the revision gives the EU new tools for a dialogue with partner countries about migration. This possibility is part of the EU's ongoing efforts in favour of a comprehensive and effective migration policy.
What are the main benefits for travellers?
With the new rules, travellers now benefit from a simpler and more user-friendly visa application procedure:
- Visa applications can be submitted up to 6 months before the intended travel (9 months for seafarers), instead of 3 months previously, allowing travellers to better plan their trips;
- Multiple-entry visas with long validity (from 1 to 5 years) are now easier to obtain, saving frequent travellers time and money, as they will have to apply for a new visa less often;
- In most cases, an application can be submitted directly in the traveller's country of residence, and where possible filled in and signed electronically (only hard copies were accepted until now), which will also save travellers time, money and hassle.
What are the new rules for issuing multiple-entry visas?
Frequent travellers with a positive visa history are to be granted multiple-entry visa with a gradually increasing validity period from 1 year to a maximum of 5 years.
Travellers' fulfilment of entry conditions will be thoroughly and repeatedly verified in all cases, and only persons with a positive visa track record will be issued multiple-entry visas with a long validity.
Multiple-entry visas allow the holder to travel repeatedly to the EU during the period of validity of the visa.
How long will it take for the visa application to be processed?
The maximum time for visa applications to be processed remains unchanged at 15 days. The processing time may be longer only in individual cases, for instance where further scrutiny of the application is needed, and take up to maximum 45 days.
This was stated by the European Commission. The full list and more information can be found on the official website.
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