Background information on EU Visa Code (01/04/2010)

As from 5 April, the EU Visa Code, adopted by the European Parliament and the Council in June 2009, will become applicable. It is directed to the Consulates of States applying the common visa policy all over the world.

The Visa Code:

- sets out all procedures and conditions for issuing "short stay visas" and "airport transit visas". It also establishes the lists of third country nationals who are required to hold "airport transit visas" when passing through the international transit areas of airports situated on the territory of the Member States;

- covers visas issued for the purpose of "short stays", meaning stays not exceeding 90 days in any 180 days period. Legislation in relation to the issuance of visas for the purpose of long stays (beyond 90 days) remains of national competence;

- concerns "short stay visas" and "airport transit visa" issued by EU Member States, except for UK and Ireland; Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus will apply the Visa Code once they become part of the Schengen area without internal borders;

- is also applied by those countries that are part of the Schengen area, without being EU members (Iceland, Norway and Switzerland).




The below "FAQs" deal with specific questions raised by journalists in Ukraine, where a visa facilitation agreement applies.


Q:The Visa Code specifies avisafee of EUR 60 and a processing deadline for visa applications of 15 days. Does it mean that Ukrainian citizens lose the more favourable conditions granted by the visa facilitation agreement?

A: No. The EC-Ukraine visa facilitation agreement continues to apply! (As a principle of international law, international agreements supersede the internal legislation of each side).The visa facilitation agreement derogates from some of the Visa Code rules by offering more favourable conditions to Ukrainian citizens (e.g. EUR 35 visa fee instead of EUR 60, visa fee waiver for broader categories, simplification of document requirements, 10-day processing time instead of 15 days).

In fact, the Visa Code addresses a number of issues and problems that remained outside the scope of the visa facilitation agreement: better information provision, motivation of refusals and appeal procedure (the latter two only from 5 April 2011). This horizontal modernisation of the EU's visa policy will benefit visa applicants of all nationalities, but in particular those from neighbouring countries such as Ukraine who wish to travel frequently to the EU.


Q: The Visa Code mentions additional service fees charged by external service providers. Do Ukrainian citizens now have to address these "visa centres" and pay additional fees? [Many Member States already work with "visa centres", which charge service fees.]

A: Where a Member State consulate cooperates with an external service provider (outsourcing), the maximum service fee that can be charged to visa applicants, in addition to the visa fee, is EUR 30. However, visa applicants have the choice of addressing the Consulate directly, although its opening times may be more limited.

Outsourcing and service fees are currently not covered by the visa facilitation agreement. Therefore, the EU and Ukraine are currently preparing to renegotiate the agreement on this point.


Q: Is it true that from 5 April Ukrainian citizens will need to give fingerprints when applying for visas?

A: No, the requirement to fingerprint applicants will only become applicable in Ukraine when the Visa Information System (VIS) is operational at EU Member States' consulates in Ukraine. The VIS is being gradually introduced in different regions of the world, starting in North Africa in late 2010. There is not date foreseen yet for the introduction of the VIS in Ukraine.


Q: Is it true that from 5 April Ukrainian citizens will need to fill in a more complicated application form?

A: No. The Visa Code indeed contains a new visa application form, which will be used worldwide from 5 April. However, the new form actually has fewer fields to fill in than the previous one!


Q: Is it true that the Visa Code abolished transit visas (B visas)?

A: Visas will still be issued for the purpose of transit. However, the code "B" visa will no longer be printed on the visa sticker. "B visas" issued before 5 April 2010 will remain valid until their expiry date.