What is the change? The European Commission has proposed significant changes to the common visa policy of the Schengen Area, including seven-day visas-on-arrival, consistent rules on visa validity to prevent “visa shopping,” faster processing, and the potential introduction of e-visas.

What does the change mean? The reforms are intended to promote short-term visits and streamline visa services for low-risk and frequent travelers while deterring irregular migration by imposing mandatory security checks and linking visa policy with cooperation on readmission of undocumented immigrants.

  • Implementation time frame: The changes are in the proposal stage and an implementation date has not been announced.
  • Visas/permits affected: Schengen (C type) visas.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals who require a visa to enter Schengen member countries. Bulgaria, Croatia, Ireland, Cyprus, Romania and the United Kingdom do not take part in the common visa policy.
  • Impact on processing times: Schengen visas would be processed in 10 days instead of the current 15 days.
  • Business impact: The proposed changes offer greater flexibility for frequent travelers and urgent trips.
  • Next steps: The changes must be approved by the European Parliament and the European Council.

Key proposals:

  • To facilitate tourism, Schengen countries will be allowed to issue single-entry visas at their borders for stays of up to seven days (valid in the issuing country only) under strict temporary schemes.
  • Schengen visas will be processed in 10 days instead of the current 15 days; applicants will be able to submit applications six month before travel instead of the current three months; and applicants will be able to fill out and sign their applications electronically instead of in-person.
  • Schengen countries will be subject to a single set of mandatory rules for issuing multiple-entry visas to prevent visa shopping. Frequent travelers with a clean visa history will be eligible for multiple-entry visas that have validity periods that gradually increase from one year to a maximum of five years.
  • Government processing fees for Schengen visas will increase from the current €60 to €80.
  • Schengen visa policy will be linked to the cooperation of the individual non-EU country in readmitting their nationals who overstay or are undocumented.
  • The commission will conduct a study, to be completed by the end of the year, on the feasibility of switching to a fully digital e-visa system.

BAL Analysis: If adopted, the proposals offer greater flexibility for non-EEA travelers to the Schengen region for business or tourism, particularly repeat and frequent travelers. The policy allowing for visas to be issued at the external borders will be a flexible option for individuals traveling on short-notice who do not have time to obtain a visa at a consulate.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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