EU proposes reform to visa policy

The European Union (EU) proposed changes Wednesday to the EU Visa Code to make it easier for legitimate travellers to obtain a visa to come to Europe, at the same time strengthening security and mitigating irregular migration risks.

Presenting the proposals at a press conference, EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos said “every year, millions of travellers visit the EU and boost our travel and tourism industry. With the reforms we propose today it will become easier and faster for legitimate travellers to obtain a visa while security standards will be enhanced to better detect and stop those who are not.” “This is why we will soon revise the Visa Information System to allow for swifter and more effective background checks on visa applicants and visa holders,” he said.

According to an European Commission press release, today’s amendments to the Visa Code are the first step of the reform of the common EU visa policy.

The proposals make decision time for visa applications to be reduced from 15 to 10 days. It will be possible for travellers to submit their applications up to 6 months in advance of their planned trip, instead of the current 3 months, and to fill in and sign their applications electronically.

Harmonised rules will apply to multiple entry visas to reduce costs and save time for both EU Member States and frequent travellers.

Such multiple entry visas will be issued to trusted regular travellers with a positive visa history for a gradually increasing period from 1 up to 5 years.

To facilitate short-term tourism, EU Member States will be allowed to issue single-entry visas directly at external land and sea borders under temporary, seasonal schemes subject to strict conditions. Such visas will be valid for a stay of a maximum of 7 days in the issuing EU Member State only.

EU visa fees will increase from 60 euro to 80 euro (USD 74 to 98).

Source: Kuwait News Agency