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12 Dec 2018

MEPs Vote for New Updates to EU’s Visa Code

MEPs Vote for New Updates to EU’s Visa CodeDuring a plenary session of the European Parliament on December 10, the MEPs voted in favor of an updated EU Visa Code.

The EU Visa Code, which is a set of rules on the processing and issuance of short-stay visas to the EU, dates back to 2010. The new updates include a higher visa fee, an extended period for visa submission, and facilities for several categories, including frequent travelers to the Schengen Zone.

The EPP Group Spokesperson Heinz Becker, asserted that the new updates will be very benefiting for the EU, attracting a higher number of visitors to the Schengen Area.

“Almost 14 million short-term Schengen visas were issued only last year. With a fully digital and shorter visa application process, as well as the introduction of multiple entry visas for regular travelers, we expect this number to grow. A stronger economy and richer European culture will be the ultimate result of this,” Becker said, adding that the updated Visa Code welcomes travelers, by “discouraging those who don’t play by the rules”.

Some of the proposed changes are as follows:

  • The Schengen visa fee will increase from 60 to 80 euros, with exceptions for some travelers
  • Children under 12, family members of EU nationals, students and researchers will have the fee waived
  • Visa application processing periods will be reduced
  • It will be possible to apply for a visa up to nine months before the intended journey
  • Some applicants may not need to present their applications in person
  • Travel health insurance will not be a prerequisite for requesting a visa
  • Travelers will be able to hand in applications at the consulate of another EU member state if:
    • The one responsible is neither present nor represented in a given third country or
    • The competent one is more than 500 km away from their place of residence
  • Additional facilities for artists and sports professionals touring in the EU and multiple entry visas for frequent travelers

Now, the European Parliament and the European council will start the talks to reach an agreement on the issue.

Currently, travelers from 104 countries and entities need to obtain a visa to enter the EU for stays up to three-months within the Schengen Zone. Schengen visa statistics show that the number of visa applications has increased by 50% in the last few years.

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