The European Union is going to strengthen and modernize its visa policy, adapting the rules to the emerging security concerns and the challenges related to migration. The proposed changes will make it easier for legitimate travelers to obtain visa to Europe and thus facilitate tourism, trade and business while boosting security and reducing various risks. The new rules include more flexible procedures, multiple entry visas with longer validity, extra resources for boosting security and improving cooperation and re-admission.
The more flexible procedures will allow submitting applications up to 6 months in advance of their planned trip (9 months for seafarers), instead of the current 3 months, and in the majority of cases directly from their country of residence. As to the multiple entries, an increase in fee will be introduced (from 60 to 80 EUR) to allow member states to maintain adequate stuff worldwide to ensure stronger security screenings, as well as upgrading of IT hardware and software. The conditions for processing visa applications can be adapted depending on whether a third country collaborates well on the return and readmission of irregular migrants.
The new rules will also regulate the length of validity of visas issued, the level of the visa fee and the exemption of such fees for some travelers. Tourism plays a key role in the European economy, accounting for around 10% of the bloc’s GDP. Whilst EU member states are among the top leading destinations, visa policy procedures are often lengthy and cumbersome. At the same time, however, the benefits of visa travel need to be balanced with security measures and migration challenges.