The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union have reached an agreement on the digitalisation of the Schengen visa procedure.
The new regulation aims to transform the way individuals apply for Schengen visas by introducing an online application system and replacing traditional visa stickers with digital visas. The objective of this proposal is to streamline the visa application process, enhance efficiency, and strengthen security within the Schengen Area.
Maria Malmer Stenergard, the Swedish Minister for Migration, highlighted the benefits of the digital visa, stating that it will simplify the application process, reduce administrative burdens, and enhance security by minimizing the risk of falsification and theft of visa stickers. However, the agreement still requires approval from the EU Member States before the adoption process can commence.
Once approved, a new Schengen visa application platform will be established. Most Schengen visa applications will be submitted through this platform, which will serve as a single website and redirect applicants to the respective visa systems. The platform will enable applicants to enter their data, upload electronic copies of travel and supporting documents, and make the necessary visa fee payments. Furthermore, applicants will receive notifications regarding their visa decisions through the same platform.
In-person appearances at consulates will generally be required only for first-time applicants, individuals with new travel documents, and those with expired biometric data. The platform will automatically determine the Member State responsible for examining the application based on the intended duration of stay. However, applicants will still have the option to specify if their application needs to be processed by a particular Member State based on the purpose of their travel.
Matjaž Nemec, the rapporteur, emphasized that digitalisation is the future of EU visa policy. The implementation of a fully digitalised system and digital visas will lead to easier, more cost-effective, and faster visa procedures for applicants. Under the new rules, digital Schengen visas will be issued in a 2D barcode format that is cryptographically signed, aiming to reduce the risks associated with counterfeit and stolen visa stickers and enhance the integrity of the visa system.
By fLEXI tEAM