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12 Jan 2018

France threatens to restore Schengen visa regime with Albania

France threatens to restore Schengen visa regime with Albania2017 was not an easy year for France, regarding the asylum issue. The European Union member country has received 100,000 migrant asylum requests last year, up 17 percent from the previous year. Surprisingly the list of countries of origin is topped by a European country. Unsurprisingly, that country is Albania.

7,630 people coming from Albania have requested asylum in France during the past year, which makes it 66% more than in 2016.  Albanians are followed by the Afghanistanis with 5,987 requests, then Haiti with 4,934 requests, Sudan with 4,486 requests, and Guinea with 3,780 asylum requests.

Despite of being a European Country, the former communist country is still in negotiations to become a member of the European Union, and not part of the Schengen zone yet. However, an Albanian passport opens the door for its holders to many countries, including European countries as France.

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Ever since Germany started turning down most of the requests of asylum seekers from Albania, seems like those holding a citizenship of the latter are looking for better options in search for a better life. Moreover, Germany not only turns down the requests of Albanians, but also makes them return to their country of origin in their own expenses. If they do not, they get a ban of five years into the Schengen zone.

While the number of Albanian asylum seekers in Germany is slowly decreasing, oppositely, in France it is quickly increasing. But because Albania, which has long been the poorest country in Europe, is considered a “secure” country of origin by the European Union, only 6.5 percent of asylum requests have been accepted by France in 2017. This lowers the chances of Albanians to win asylum in this country, making them almost zero.

It might take a little longer for Albanians to understand that, but in the meantime, though France authorities claim they can cope with the situation, they are threatening to advocate a return to the Schengen visa regime for Albania and to veto any further negotiations over joining the EU as a result of the large volume of asylum seekers coming from Albania.

Such a visa regime, would affect Albanian travelers, diplomats and students. Moreover, Germany and the Netherlands have made similar threats, which they are possibly going to bring into reality if the situation doesn’t change.

Another reason why these countries are turning Albanians back to their country is the number of the latter involved in criminal offenses. The current number of Albanian nationals in French jails is 5 times higher than in 2011. Also, according to a Netherland police report leaked earlier this year, the Minister of Security and Justice had been advised to reconsider Albania’s visa exemption because of Albanian criminal activity in the country.

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