The European Commission has proposed a significant set of reforms aimed at addressing the constantly evolving security status of the EU Visa Code to make it easier for travellers to obtain tourist and business visas.
The Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos announced the series of amendments to the Visa Code – the first steps towards reforming the common EU visa policy.
The proposed overhaul would shorten the decision-making time for visa applications from 15 to 10 days and allow travellers to submit their applications up to 6 months in advance instead of the current 3 months, and allow passport holders to fill in and sign their applications electronically.
The new rules are aimed at preventing “visa shopping” by reducing the costs and bureaucratic red tape involved to issue five-year, multiple-entry visas to travellers with a clean visa history. The Commission, however, says that the current conditions for individuals who require a visa for the EU must continue to apply and will be thoroughly vetted before a long-term tourist visa can be issued.
A new type of short-term, single-entry visas with a seven-day validity in the issuing Member State will be available at external borders to help countries increase the size of their short-term tourist numbers. Countries such as Greece have asked for the renewal of similar temporary schemes on the islands to allow Turkish tourists to visit without having to apply for a visa prior to their entry.
The Commission proposes a “moderate increase of the visa fee” of €20, from €60 to €80. The 25% increase will allow the EU countries to ensure stronger security screenings, upgrade their IT equipment, and software and maintain the officers in place. Avramopoulos underlined that the European visas will still remain cheaper than China and the U.S. even with this €20 fee increase.