EU inches closer to digitalise Schengen visa procedure
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EU inches closer to digitalise Schengen visa procedure

EU inches closer to digitalise Schengen visa procedure

The proposal aims to make the visa application procedure more efficient and to improve the security of the Schengen area

Schengen visa application

The European Union (EU) has inched closer to digitalising the Schengen visa application procedure for all applicants after member states agreed to negotiate on the council’s proposed rules.

The move will make it easy for UAE residents wishing to travel to Schengen countries to apply for visas digitally without waiting for appointments, standing in a queue or submitting their passports for the visa application process.

The proposal aims to make the visa application procedure more efficient and to improve the security of the Schengen area. It will also replace the current visa sticker with a digital visa.

Maria Malmer Stenergard, Swedish Minister for Migration, said, “A digital Schengen visa will make it easier for legitimate travellers to apply and will at the same time help make the Schengen area safer.”

“Online applications will reduce the number of trips to the consulate for travellers and make the process smoother for national administrations. At the same time, the digital visa will put an end to the risk of falsification and theft of the visa sticker,” she added.

New Schengen visa application process

Stenergard highlighted that the proposed new rules will create a visa application platform. All applications for Schengen visas will be made through this platform, a single website, which will forward them to the relevant national visa systems.

Schengen visa: Maria Almer StenergardOn this platform, visa applicants will be able to introduce all relevant data, upload electronic copies of their travel and supporting documents and pay their visa fees. They will also be notified of the decisions concerning their visa.

In-person appearance at the consulate will only be required for first-time applicants, persons whose biometric data are no longer valid and those with a new travel document.

When a UAE resident intends to visit several Schengen countries, the platform will automatically determine which one of them is responsible for examining the application based on the duration of stay.

The modernisation process is expected to make Schengen visa application hassle-free as it is sometimes not easy to get an appointment for the visa application. Submitting the passport to agencies and waiting for the visa stamp is also an inconvenience.

However, the applicant will also have the possibility to indicate whether the application needs to be processed by a specific member state according to the purpose of travel.

Under the proposed new rules, visas will be issued in digital format, as a 2D barcode, cryptographically signed. This will reduce security risks related to counterfeit and stolen visa stickers.

Background and next steps

Meanwhile, recent migration and security challenges have significantly transformed the context of the EU’s visa policy. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic also significantly slowed down visa operations and created the need for more digital procedures.

Similarly, technological developments provide new security features and opportunities to make procedures smoother and more effective, both for visa applicants and national authorities.

The European Commission, in that regard, submitted a legislative proposal aimed at digitalising the visa procedure in April 2022.

Based on the negotiating mandate agreed upon on Wednesday, the council presidency will start negotiations with the European Parliament to decide on the final wording.

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