Photo for illustrative purposes only.


Residents could soon apply for Schengen visas online

UAE residents wanting to travel to Schengen countries would no longer have to wait and stand in a queue to process visas as the European Union agreed on Wednesday (March 30) to digitalize the visa procedure.

The proposed digitalization will replace the current visa sticker with a digital visa, aiming to make visa applications more efficient and improve the security of the Schengen area.

Maria Malmer Stenegard, Swedish Minister for Migration, said that the digital Schengen visa would make a more accessible application for legitimate travelers. It also helps make the Schengen area safer.

“Online applications will reduce the number of trips to the consulate for travelers and make the process smoother for national administrations. At the same time, the digital visa will end the risk of falsification and theft of the visa sticker,” said Stenegard.

Meanwhile, visa companies were also optimistic about the digital move and said it would be a great step towards promoting Europe as a destination.

VFS Global, the world’s largest visa outsourcing, supports the EU’s proposed digitalization.

“We are fully aware that the EU’s plans to digitize the visa application process, and as an external service provider to virtually all EU and Schengen governments, VFS Global looks forward to working with these governments to support them on their transformation journey,” VFS Global, in a Khaleej Times report.

The proposed new rules will create a visa application platform. All applications for Schengen visas will be made through this website, which will forward them to the relevant national visa systems, Stenegard explained.

On the new digital platform, visa applicants will be introduced to 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.

However, first-time applicants must go through an in-person appearance at the consulate and to those whose biometrics data are no longer valid.

Additionally, the platform will automatically decide which Schengen country is in charge of reviewing the application when a person plans to travel to multiple Schengen nations based on the duration of the stay. However, the applicant will also have the option to specify which member state should handle the application depending on the intended purpose of travel.

Visas will be issued following the new regulations in digital form as a 2D barcode that is cryptographically signed. This will lessen security threats from stolen and fake visa stickers.

The 27 Schengen countries are composed of Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. RZSP/Expat Media

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