The European Union (EU) has taken a significant step toward the digitalization of Schengen Visa application procedures with the approval of two new regulations by the Council of the EU. The proposed changes aim to introduce a new system for obtaining a Schengen Visa, simplifying the application process, reducing costs, and enhancing overall efficiency.
The key changes expected with the digitalization of visa procedures include:
Single Online Platform: A new single online platform will be introduced to process all Schengen Visa applications. Regardless of the destination or the number of countries a traveler intends to visit, the entire application process will be completed through this centralized platform.
Document Uploads: Applicants will be required to upload necessary documents, such as passport scans, digital biometric photos, flight tickets, and proof of accommodation, to the platform. Physical submission of documents will no longer be necessary, streamlining the application process.
Online Visa Fee Payment: Visa fees will be paid online through the same platform, providing a secure and convenient payment process for applicants. The platform's development and maintenance costs will be covered by the EU.
In-Person Requirement: While the majority of applicants can complete the process online, a limited group, including first-time applicants, those with expired biometric data, and those with a new travel document, may still need to apply in person. However, the overall process for in-person applications is expected to be more efficient.
Digital Barcodes: Traditional visa stickers will be replaced with digital barcodes, enhancing security and reducing the risk of counterfeiting, fraud, and theft associated with physical stickers.
The EU aims to achieve several goals with these changes, including:
Cost Reduction: The digitalization of visa procedures is expected to reduce costs and the burden on Member States and applicants. Consulates will require fewer staff, and travelers will save money on processing fees.
Prevention of 'Visa Shopping': The new platform aims to prevent the practice of 'visa shopping,' where applicants submit their visa requests to consulates of countries they do not plan to visit. The system will automatically determine the appropriate authorities for processing each application.
Enhanced Security: The replacement of physical visa stickers with digital barcodes will enhance the overall security of the Schengen Area, reducing the risks associated with counterfeit and stolen visa stickers.
The digitalization of Schengen Visa application procedures represents a significant modernization effort by the EU, streamlining processes, improving efficiency, and ensuring the security of the visa application system.
By fLEXI tEAM