The EU member states’ ambassadors today agreed the Council’s negotiating mandate for a proposal to digitalise the visa procedure. The proposal introduces the possibility to apply for a visa online and replaces the current visa sticker with a digital visa. It aims to make the visa application procedure more efficient and to improve the security of the Schengen area.
A digital Schengen visa will make the process easier and safer, said Maria Malmer Stenergard, Swedish Minister for Migration. “Online applications will reduce the number of trips to the consulate for travellers and make the process smoother for national administrations. At the same time, the digital visa will put an end to the risk of falsification and theft of the visa sticker,” said the Minister.
The proposed new rules will create a visa application platform. All applications for Schengen visas will be made through this platform, a single website, which will forward them to the relevant national visa systems. On this platform, visa applicants will be able to introduce all relevant data, upload electronic copies of their travel- and supporting documents, and pay their visa fees. They will also be notified of the decisions concerning their visa. In-person appearance at the consulate will only be necessary for first-time applicants, persons whose biometric data are no longer valid and those with a new travel document.
Under the proposed new rules, visas will be issued in digital format, as a 2D barcode, cryptographically signed.
On the basis of the negotiating mandate agreed today, the Council presidency will start negotiations with the European Parliament to agree on the final wording.
At the moment, of the six Eastern Partnership countries, only Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine have a visa-free regime with the EU. Residents of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus have to obtain Schengen visas to enter the EU.
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