BRUSSELS, European Parliament and the EU Council negotiators informally agreed on Tuesday on a new EU Visa Code, establishing the procedures and conditions for issuing visas to nationals of more than 100 non-EU countries travelling to the EU for short periods up to 90 days.
The main purpose of the reform is to facilitate legitimate travel for tourism, trade and business, whilst preventing irregular immigration and contributing to internal security, said the EP in a press release.
Procedures for bona fide travellers will be now simpler.
Visa applications will have to be submitted between six months (instead of the current three months) and 15 days ahead of the intended trip, except for seafarers who will be allowed to submit applications nine months in advance.
Among other changes,the general visa fee will increase from 60 to 80 euros -with a possible reduction for people under 18 year old-, and children under six, students and researchers will continue to be exempted of visa fee.
Some provisions, such as the visa fees, the time taken to issue decisions on applications, and the period of validity of multiple entry visas, may be adapted depending on whether a given non-EU country shows “sufficient,” or alternatively “insufficient,” cooperation on readmitting illegal migrants.
The informal deal will now be put to the vote in the EP Civil Liberties Committee. It will also need to be confirmed by the full EP before formal adoption by the EU Council of Ministers.
Currently, travellers from 102 countries and two other entities are required to have a visa in order to enter the EU. The number of visa applications has increased by 50 percent in the last few years, from 10.2 million in 2009 to 15.2 million in 2016.
Meanwhile, the EU’s Civil Liberties Committee voted by unanimity (53 votes) on Tuesday, to exempt British citizens of visa requirements for stays in the EU of up to 90 days, from the day following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
However, the visa waiver will be granted to the British citizens on the basis of reciprocity, i.e. provided that EU nationals are also given visa-free access for short business or tourist trips to the UK if it becomes a non-EU country.
Source: Kuwait News Agency