Dubai: You will soon be able to apply for your Schengen visa entirely online through a visa application platform, according to new rules adopted by the Council of the European Union (EU) on Monday, November 13.
The digitalisation of the visa process will scrap visa stickers on passports, which means no more appointments at consulates or service providers’ offices.
Spain’s Interior Minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, whose country currently holds the presidency of the Council, stated that the online visa system will “simplify the application process for travellers, at the same time, will ease the burden on national administrations, which will be able to respond more quickly and effectively”.
While there are over 61 non-EU countries which have a visa-free regime with the EU, citizens of other countries are required to apply for a Schengen visa. If you are not eligible for visa-free travel within the Schengen zone, here are how the new changes will affect you.
Three major updates to the Schengen Visa
1. Now apply for your visa entirely online
According to a statement issued by the Council of the EU, a new EU visa application platform will be developed, and applications for Schengen visas will be made through that platform.
On the platform, visa applicants will be able to enter all the relevant data, upload digital copies of their travel documents and supporting documents, and pay their visa fees.
2. No more visits to consulates or visa service providers, except for first-time applicants
As per the latest regulations, in-person appearances at consulates will become redundant.
In-person appearances will only be necessary for first-time applicants, individuals whose biometric data are no longer valid and people with a new travel document.
3. No visa sticker on passport
Visa stickers will no longer be placed on applicants’ passports. The visas will now be issued in a digital format, as a 2D barcode, cryptographically signed. This will reduce security risks related to counterfeit and stolen visa stickers, according to the Council of the EU.
When will the new changes come into effect?
As per the announcement, once the regulations are signed, “it will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union and will enter into force on the twentieth day after publication.
“The date of application of the new rules will be decided when technical work on the visa platform and the digital visa has been concluded.”
• Czech Republic
Non-EU countries issuing Schengen visas
EU countries not issuing Schengen visas
Source: Official website of the Council of the EU and the European Council - www.consilium.europa.eu .