The European Commission has proposed changes to the EU’s Schengen visa system designed to shorten and simplify the procedures for those visiting the EU for short stays.
The new rules are also intended to reduce costs and red tape, while still maintaining a high level of security.
“Europe needs a smarter visa policy. We need to attract more tourists, business people, researchers, students, artists and culture professionals to our shores,” said Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs.
“Now, we want to boost our economy and create new jobs by underlining the economic dimension in our visa policy, while keeping a high level of security at our borders. Today’s proposals will greatly facilitate the procedures for short stay visitors.”
The Schengen visa allows visitors to travel among 26 European countries on a single visa.
Proposed changes to the policy include:
- Reducing the deadline for processing and making a decision on a visa application from 15 to 10 days. The maximum deadline for applying for a visa has been increased from three to six months before the intended trip.
- Simplifying the list of required supporting documents, and abolishing the requirement for travel medical insurance.
- Boosting consular cooperation by allowing application at any of the consulates present, when the member state responsible for processing the application is neither present nor represented in a given third country.
- Introduction of mandatory criteria for multiple entry visas, which are valid for three years, and subsequently for five years for ‘VIS registered regular’ travellers.
- Establishing a Touring Visa, to allow legitimate non-EU residents to travel for up to a year in the Schengen area, provided they do not stay in one member state for longer than 90 days in any 180 day period. This visa would also offer the possibility of an extension for up to two years.
The changes must be reviewed and approved by the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament, which can be expected at the earliest in 2015.
Holland.com / Expatica