The EU Commission has proposed to the EU countries to replace the visa sticker and introduce the possibility of applying for a visa online through the European online visa platform. It is expected that the digital Schengen will eliminate the lengthy process of registration with a large number of paper documents, the falsification of visas and the wear and tear of paper counterparts. Digitization of visa procedures will last until 2025, and a full transition will occur only by 2031, i.e. in the next few years, Russians will use a paper visa and apply in person at the visa application center or consulate as before.
According to the Commission of the European Union, digitization will improve the processing of applications by reducing costs and burden on Member States and applicants while improving security in the Schengen area.
According to the agency, this innovation will help avoid “purchasable” visas by applicants who may consider applying to a Schengen country that offers faster processing of visa applications, rather than the country that is their actual destination. In addition, the digitization of the visa process will also reduce the security risks associated with physical visa stickers, which can be used by fraudsters to falsify and steal.
- Thanks to digitalization, those who apply for a Schengen visa will be able to do it online and pay their visa fee through the single EU visa platform, regardless of the Schengen country they plan to visit .
- Once the application has been received, the platform will automaticallydetermine which Schengen country is responsible for processing the visa application.
- In addition to the above, it has been noted that the visa will include state of the art security features, which will be more secure than a conventional visa sticker.
- The new system will provide continued protection of fundamental rights.
- In addition, the platform will also provide applicants with an up-to-date information about Schengen short-stay visas and all the necessary data on the requirements and procedures for obtaining a document. This means that as soon as all procedures can be carried out online, tourists will not have to go to consulates.
Who needs to apply for a visa in person?
The Commission noted that personal appearance at the consulate will be mandatory only for the following groups:
- those who are applying for a visa for the first time obtaining biometric identifiers;
- those whose biometric data is no longer valid;
- those who have a new travel document, i.e. passport.
The Commission's proposal was endorsed by Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson: “A modern visa process is critical to facilitating travel to the EU for tourism and business. Half of those who come to the EU with a Schengen visa find it cumbersome to obtain a visa, and one third have to travel long distances to obtain a visa. It is time for the EU to provide a fast, secure and web-based EU visa application platform for 102 third country nationals who require a short stay visa to travel to the EU.
EC Deputy Chairman Margaritis Schinas also approved this decision. At a press conference, he spoke as follows: “Today we are moving the EU visa policy into the digital age. With some Member States already going digital, it is vital that the Schengen Area move forward as a whole. We are offering a fully digitized visa application to help travelers and Member States have a smoother and more secure application process.”
The Commission's proposal for the Digitalization of the Schengen Visa Process will now be discussed by the Council and Parliament. EU member states will then have five years to switch to the online visa platform. As a result of negotiations between lawmakers, the development of the platform could begin in 2024 and start work in 2026. With a five-year transition period, all Member States will be able to use the platform in 2031.
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