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New EU visa code from 5 April

A new visa code will become applicable in the European Union from 5 April. The EU Visa Code gathers into a single document all legal provisions governing decisions on visas.

The Commission says the code "increases the transparency, develops legal security and ensures equal treatment of applicants while harmonising rules and practices for the Schengen States (22 Member States and 3 associated states) applying the common visa policy".

Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, responsible for Home Affairs, stated: "As from 5 April, the conditions for issuing visas for the Schengen area to third-country nationals will become clearer, more precise, transparent and fairer. Getting an EU visa will become faster. The EU Visa Code will ensure that the application of EU visa law is fully harmonised."

The Visa Code draws together all existing legal provisions on visas and lays down common rules on conditions and procedures for their issuing. It includes general provisions as well as rules determining the Member State responsible for a visa application, and it harmonises provisions on processing of applications and decisions.

The uniform EU visa application form has been slimlined. The content of individual fields has been clarified for the benefit of both applicants and consular staff.

Further categories of persons will benefit from a visa fee waiver and children of 6-12 years of age should only pay a visa fee of €35 (the general fee remains €60).

Nationals of third countries with which the Union has concluded Visa Facilitation Agreements shall continue to pay a visa fee of €35.

Moreover, the Code increases the transparency and legal certainty. It requires providing a motivation for refusals of visa applications and gives the opportunity for appealing against negative decisions.

Finally, it foresees a greater role for the Union Delegations in coordinating Member States' cooperation within the "local Schengen cooperation" in third states. This will also contribute to enhancing harmonisation of procedures.

To ensure equal treatment of visa applicants, the Handbook for the processing of visa applications has been drawn up (adopted by the Commission on 19.3.2010) and will be available to all consular staff of Member States.

The Visa Code was adopted in June 2009 by the European Parliament and the Council.

The EU Visa Code will apply from 5 April 2010 - Briefing

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