Schengen visa: the European Union wants to digitize procedures

The Council of the European Union (EU) agreed on Wednesday on a negotiating mandate for the digitization and unification of the Schengen visa procedure.

The ambassadors of the Member States agreed on the negotiating mandate to digitize the visa procedure, the EU Council said in a statement, noting that the proposal “introduces the possibility of applying for a visa online and replaces the current visa sticker with a digital visa”.

This initiative aims “to make the visa application procedure more efficient and to improve the security of the Schengen area,” the statement said, adding that the proposed new rules will create a unified platform for visa applications.

Under the proposal, all Schengen visa applications “will be submitted through this platform, a single website, which will transmit them to the relevant national systems”, the Council said, adding that visa applicants will be able to enter all relevant data, upload electronic copies of their travel documents and supporting documents and pay their visa fees on this platform.

Applicants, who will also be informed via the platform of decisions on their visa, will only have to go to the consulate in person if they are applying for a visa for the first time if their biometric data are no longer valid, or if they have acquired a new travel document.

“A digital Schengen visa will make it easier for legitimate travelers to apply for a visa and at the same time help make the Schengen area more secure,” said Swedish Migration Minister Maria Malmer Stenergard, whose country currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU Council.

Under the proposed new rules, visas will be issued in digital format, in the form of a cryptographically signed 2D barcode. According to Maria Malmer Stenergard, this will “eliminate the risk of forgery and theft of the visa sticker”.

The European Commission presented a legislative proposal to digitize the visa procedure last April.

Based on the negotiating mandate agreed by the EU Council, the Council Presidency will start negotiations with the European Parliament to reach an agreement on the final text.


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