UAE residents wishing to travel to Schengen countries would not have to wait for appointments, stand in a queue or submit their passports to process their visas as the EU moves a step closer to digitalise the permit procedure.
The EU member states’ ambassadors on Wednesday agreed the Council’s negotiating mandate for a proposal to digitalise the visa procedure. It 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.
Maria Malmer Stenergard, Swedish Minister for Migration, said, “A digital Schengen visa will make it easier for legitimate travellers to apply and will at the same time help make the Schengen area safer. 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.”
In a previous Khaleej Times report, VFS Global said, “We are fully aware that the EU plans to digitise the visa application process, and as an external service provider to virtually all EU and Schengen governments, VFS Global looks forward to work with these governments to support them on their transformation journey.”
Tour operators were also optimistic about the digital move and said it would be a great step towards promoting Europe as a destination here.
For tourists, travelling to the 27 EU countries will be hassle-free as it’s sometimes not easy to get an appointment for the visa application. Submitting the passport to agencies and waiting for the visa stamp is also an inconvenience.
Residents welcomed digitisation and said they would be more inclined to travel to the EU. With summer around the corner, applying for visas online will be a great step, as digitisation and a simple online checklist, could save a lot of time.
According to Maria Malmer Stenergard, 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.
When a person intends to visit several Schengen countries, the platform will automatically determine which one of them is responsible for examining the application based on the duration of stay. However, the applicant will also have the possibility to indicate whether the application needs to be processed by a specific member state according to the purpose of travel.
Under the proposed new rules, visas will be issued in digital format, as a 2D barcode, cryptographically signed. This will reduce security risks related to counterfeit and stolen visa stickers.
News source: Khaleej Times