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EU's Schengen visa process set to go digital

27 April 2022, 23:27 CET
EU's Schengen visa process set to go digital

Schengen visa - Photo by ButcherC via Wikimedia Commons

(BRUSSELS) - The Schengen visa process is set to be replaced by a visa sticker, following an EU proposal Wednesday which introduces the possibility to submit visa applications online through the European online visa platform.

The 'New Pact on Migration and Asylum' set an objective to fully digitalise visa procedures by 2025. This is now seen as an opportunity to effectively improve the visa application process by reducing the costs and the burden on the Member States as well as the applicants, while also improving the security of the Schengen area.

The aim of the proposal is to harmonise and unify visa application procedures within the Schengen area, where it currently differs between Schengen countries.

Harmonising and unifying visa application procedures within the Schengen area will help to avoid so called 'visa shopping' by applicants who may be tempted to lodge an application with a Schengen country that offers faster visa application processing than with a country that is actually their destination. The digitalisation of the visa process will also reduce security risks posed by the physical visa stickers, which could still be prone to falsification, fraud and theft.

Through digitalisation, applying for a Schengen visa will become easier and the visa itself will be more secure:

  • Visa applicants will be able to apply for a visa online, including paying the visa fee through a single EU platform, regardless of the Schengen country they want to visit;
  • The platform will automatically determine which Schengen country is responsible for examining an application, in particular when the applicant intends to visit several Schengen countries;
  • The platform will provide applicants with up-to-date information on Schengen short-stay visas, as well as all necessary information regarding the requirements and procedures (such as supporting documents, visa fee or the need for an appointment to collect biometric identifiers);
  • Appearing in person at the consulate would only be mandatory for first time applicants for the collection of biometric identifiers, for applicants whose biometric data are no longer valid or those with a new travel document;
  • The visa will include state-of-the-art security features, which will be more secure than the current visa sticker;
  • The new system will ensure that fundamental rights are always protected.

The Commission proposal will now be discussed by the European Parliament and the Council. Member States will have then five years to switch to the common online visa platform.

Based on the outcome of the negotiations between the co-legislators, the development of the platform could start in 2024 and become operational in 2026. Considering the five-year transition period, all Member States could use the platform in 2031.


Digitalisation of Schengen Visa process - guide


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