EU readies tougher visa policy

EU readies tougher visa policy

The EU plans to update its common visa policy to adapt to “security concerns, challenges linked to migration and technology”.

Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “With the reforms we propose, it will become easier and faster for legitimate travellers to obtain a visa while security standards will be enhanced.

“The new rules will also help improve cooperation with non-EU countries when it comes to return of irregular migrants.”

Proposed amendments to the EU Visa Code would be a first step in reform of the common EU visa policy, he said, with an update of the Visa Information System (VIS) to follow.

The EC said the changes would streamline EU visa rules by:

• Reducing the decision-making time for visa applications from 15 to 10 days, allowing applications to be submitted up to six months in advance instead of three months, and to be completed online.
• Harmonising rules on multiple-entry visas to prevent “visa shopping”, with multiple-entry visas issued to trusted travellers for up to five years .
• Allowing the issue of single-entry visas at land and sea borders under seasonal schemes, with visas valid only in the issuing state and for up to seven days.
• Raising visa fees from €60 to €80 to allow “adequate levels of consular staff to ensure stronger security screening” and upgrade IT equipment.

The EC warned it also intends to toughen the visa process “when a partner country does not cooperate sufficiently on readmission of irregular migrants” including travellers who overstay visas.

Proposals to revise the Visa Information System (VIS) – the database of applicants and applications –will follow this spring to allow faster background checks.

EU Schengen-area states issued almost 14 million short-stay visas in 2016, with citizens of 105 non-EU countries requiring a visa to enter the area.

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