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14 Apr 2018

More than half Schengen LTV visas obtained by Kosovars in 2017

More than half Schengen LTV visas obtained by Kosovars in 2017The citizens of the youngest European country have obtained 61,754 limited territorial validity visas (LTVs), thus obtaining more than half of the overall number of visas issued by the Schengen States in the past year.

Kosovo citizens, who submitted 90,475 uniform visa applications, 17,712 of which were refused, are listed as the 25th country with most Schengen Visa applications in 2017 as shown in the Schengen Visa statistics by third country published by the Migration and Home Affairs of the European Commission.

Schengen StateUniform visas applied forTotal uniform visas issued (including MEV)
Multiple entry uniform visas (MEVs) issuedTotal LTVs issuedUniform visas not issued

However, when it comes to the country the citizens of which obtained most LTV visas, Kosovo is listed as the first, obtaining more than all other countries together.

A limited territorial validity visa, shortly referred to as the LTV visa, is a Schengen short stay visa, the holder of which is permitted to enter and stay only in the Schengen country that has issued the visa to him / her. In specific cases the holder is also allowed to travel to another Schengen country, which must be specified in the visa. This visa does not permit its holder to enter or transit any other country, aside of those mentioned in the visa.

The residents of the neighboring country of Kosovo, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia though listed second in this regard, obtained more than 8 times less visas than Kosovars. Just below  Kosovo and FYROM are listed the Arab countries as Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Egypt.

The number of visas obtained by Kosovars seems to have increased by around ten thousand compared to 2016 when Schengen states issued 51,604 LTV visas to the citizens of the country that last February celebrated 10 years of independence. Actually from 58,647 visas issued to Kosovars in 2015 the numbers had dropped in 2016 for around eight thousands, and then increased again.

One of the reasons behind such decisions of the Schengen member states to issue LTV visas to Kosovars, rather than uniform visas, is that five EU countries (also Schengen area member states) Slovakia, Spain, Cyprus, Greece and Romania, have still not recognized Kosovo as an independent country, therefore do not recognize its passport either.

While a uniform Schengen visa gives the right to its holder to enter every country that is part of the Schengen, the five above mentioned countries do not allow travelers from Kosovo to enter with a ‘regular’ Kosovo passport, even if they hold a uniform Schengen visa. To avoid such situations, in most of the cases Schengen member states that have recognized Kosovo’s independence, issue to its residents LTV visas.

However, Kosovo citizens can still enter these five countries with travel documents issued by the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo and a Schengen visa.

On the other hand, Kosovo remains the only country in the Balkans, which has been unable to reach a visa liberalization agreement with the European Union so far. The Kosovo Parliament voted the agreement of demarcation ratification with Montenegro on March 21, which was one of the two last criteria for visa liberalization, amid tear gas thrown in the assembly by one of the main opposition parties. The country has one last obstacle in its journey towards visa free travel, which is fighting against corruption.

At the end of 2014, Kosovo faced the biggest exodus since the war, when tens of thousands of Kosovar youngsters fled the country, illegally passing through Serbia to Hungary and then the western countries, as a result of economic difficulties and political situation.

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