The European Parliament and Council have reached an agreement on the proposed reform of short-stay visas for non-EU nationals.
The new EU Visa Code, which has been informally approved by negotiators from the Parliament and Council, will simplify the current application procedures for short-stay visas, which last up to 90 days in any 180-day period. The rules will apply to residents of the 102 countries and two other entities whose citizens are currently required to acquire a visa in order to visit the EU.
The policy is aimed at simplifying the visa process for legitimate travellers visiting the EU for tourism or business purposes, while maintaining reasonable standards of national security and discouraging irregular migration. The number of short-term visa applications to EU Member States has increased substantially in recent years, rising from 10.2 million in 2009 to 15.2 million in 2016.
The period in which prospective travellers can submit visa applications has extended from up to three months before the start of their journey to up to six; with “seafarers” allowed to submit applications up to nine months before their trip. The minimum time allowed remains 15 days before visa applicants plan to travel. The general fee for visa applications is set to increase from €60 to €80, with potential reductions for children and teenagers. Full-time students and researchers are currently exempt from paying the visa fee; this will not change under the reforms.
Arts performers and high-level athletes will be accorded “additional facilities”, while frequent travellers may be allowed the option of multiple entry visas, depending on their circumstances. A number of the provisions in the proposed reforms, including the rate of visa fees, the time taken to approve applications and the validity period of multiple entry visas will open to adaptation depending on the level of cooperation a non-EU nation shows in readmitting illegitimate migrants.
The short-stay visa deal provisionally agreed upon by negotiators will now be passed to the Civil Liberties Committee for approval before it is voted on in the European Parliament’s plenary session.