1) Changes in Schengen visa application process
As part of the worldwide introduction of the Visa Information System (VIS), the Schengen States will launch the VIS in Ukraine (and in other Eastern Partnership countries) on 23 June 2015. The VIS has already started in sixteen (out of 23) world regions since October 2011. By end November 2015 all Schengen consulates worldwide will be connected to VIS.
The major changefor Ukrainian citizens from 23 June 2015 is that all applicants would need to appear in person in order to provide biometric data (fingerprints and digital photography), which is a simple and discreet procedure. This concerns the applications for the short-term Schengen visas (max. 90 days in 180 days).
More details can be found here.
2) On 1 July 2013 amended EU-Ukraine Visa Facilitation Agreement come into force.
3) EU-Ukraine Visa Facilitation Agreement:
The purpose of the Agreement is to facilitate, on the basis of reciprocity, the issuance of visas for an intended stay of no more than 90 days per period of 180 days to the citizens of Ukraine.
This agreement does not apply for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Ireland, The Kingdom of Denmark, the Republic of Iceland and the Kingdom of Norway. The agreement defines a number of simplified procedures (facilitations) for issuing visas. They concern:
For the categories of persons listed below, only the mentioned documents are requested to justify the purpose of the journey.
The general requirement of personal appearance for the submission of the visa application and supporting documents will remain unaffected. In individual cases, in which doubts remain regarding the purpose of the journey, the applicants’ intention to return to his/her country of origin or to proof sufficient means of subsistence proportionate to the length and the purpose of the stay, the visa applicant can be called for an additional in depth interview to the embassy/consulate.
a) for members of official delegations who, following an official invitation addressed to Ukraine, shall participate in meetings, consultations, negotiations or exchange programmes, as well as in events held in the territory of the Member States by intergovernmental organizations:
- a letter from an Ukrainian authority confirming the applicant is a member of the official delegation and
- a copy of the official invitation sent by the EU institution or Member State;
b) for business people and representatives of business organisations:
- a written request (original) from a host legal person, company, authority or organising committee;
c) for drivers conducting international cargo and passenger transportation services to the territories of the Member States in vehicles registered in Ukraine;
- a written request (original) from the national association of carriers stating the purpose, duration and frequency of the trips;
d) for members of train, refrigerator and locomotive crews travelling to the territories of the Member States:
- a written request (original) from the railway company stating the purpose, duration and frequency of the trips;
e) for journalists:
- a certificate (original) issued by a professional organisation to prove (s)he is a journalist and
- a document from the employer stating the purpose is journalistic work;
f) for persons participating in scientific, cultural and artistic activities, including university and other exchange programmes:
- a written request from the host organisation (original);
g) for pupils, students, post-graduate students and accompanying teachers travelling for study or educational training, exchange programmes, or other school-related activities:
- a written request (original) or
- a certificate of enrolment (original) from the host university or
- student cards or certificates of the courses to be attended;
h) for participants in international sports events and persons accompanying them in a professional capacity:
- written request (original) from the host organisation (national sport Federations or National Olympic Committees of the Member States);
i) for participants in official exchange programmes organised by twin cities:
- written request (original) of the Head of Administration/Mayor of these cities;
j) for close relatives - spouse, children (including adopted), parents (including custodians), grandparents and grandchildren, visiting citizens from Ukraine legally residing in the territories of the Member States:
- written request from the host person including proof of the relationship and residency (original);
k) relatives visiting for burial ceremonies:
- official document confirming the fact of death, as well as confirmation of the family or other relationship between the applicant and the buried;
l) persons visiting military and civil burial grounds:
- official document (original) confirming existence and preservation of the grave and the relationship between the applicant and the buried;
m) for persons visiting for medical reasons:
- official document of the medical institution confirming the necessity of medical care in this institution and proof of sufficient financial means to pay for the medical treatment.
Schengen rules or national law apply to issues not covered by the provisions of this Agreement, such as recognition of travel documents, travel medical insurance and guarantees regarding return and sufficient means of subsistence. The visa applicant should consult the competent consulate in order to obtain information about all the documents required.
What is in the written request?
For the invited person: name, surname, date of birth, sex, citizenship, number of the identity document, time and purpose of journey, number of entries, and name of minor children accompanying the invited person.
For inviting person: name, surname, address and contact details.
For inviting legal person: full name and address, name and position of the person signing the request and registration number for companies based in the Member States.
The fee for processing a visa application is 35 €.
This fee will benefit all citizens from Ukraine and concern all types of Schengen visas, i.e. both transit and short-stay visas, irrespective of the number of entries.
There is the possibility of charging an extra fee of 70 € on urgent requests (3 days before departure). This does not apply to members of official delegations, members of national and regional Governments and Parliaments, Constitutional Courts and Supreme Courts, cases related to humanitarian or health reasons (disabled persons and those to receive urgent medical treatment), journalists and pensioners.
In addition, the following categories pay the normal fee of 35 € in the case of urgent requests (3 days before departure): close relatives, pupils, students and accompanying teachers, participants in scientific, cultural, artistic, sports events and exchange programs, drivers, train crews and children under the age of 18 and dependant children under the age of 21.
As the fee corresponds to the administrative costs for processing the visa application, it has to be paid when the visa application is submitted and there is no reimbursement in case of refusal to issue the visa.
Certain categories of persons benefit from a waiving of the visa fee:
- close relatives - spouses, children (including adopted), parents (including custodians), grandparents and grandchildren, visiting citizens of Ukraine legally residing in the territory of the Member States;
- members of official delegations who, following an official invitation addressed to Ukraine, shall participate in meetings, consultations, negotiations or exchange programmes, as well as in events held in the territory of one of the Member States by intergovernmental organizations;
- members of national and regional Governments and Parliaments, Constitutional Courts and Supreme Courts, if they are not exempted from the visa requirement by the present Agreement;
- pupils, students, post-graduate students and accompanying teachers who undertake trips for the purposes of study or educational training;
- disabled persons and the person accompanying them, if necessary;
- persons who have presented documents proving the necessity of their travel on humanitarian grounds, including to receive urgent medical treatment and the person accompanying such person, or to attend a funeral of a close relative, or to visit a close relative seriously ill;
- participants in international sports events and persons accompanying them in a professional capacity;
- persons participating in scientific, cultural and artistic activities including university and other exchange programmes;
- participants in official exchange programmes organised by twin cities;
- drivers conducting international cargo and passenger transportation services to the territories of the Member states in vehicles registered in Ukraine;
- members of train, refrigerator and locomotive crews in international trains travelling to the territories of the Member States;
- children under the age of 18 and dependant children under the age of 21.
Moreover, diplomatic missions and consulates can waive or reduce the fee in individual cases.
4. Criteria for issuing multiple-entry visas (for staying maximum 90 days per 180 days) valid for a long period of time
- Multiple-entry visas valid for 5 years to members of national and regional Governments and Parliaments, Constitutional Courts and Supreme Courts; permanent members of official delegations; spouses, children (under the age of 21 or dependant) and parents visiting citizens of Ukraine residing in the Member States, for the time of duration of their authorisation for legal residence or of their mandate, if these are less than five years; business people and representatives of business organisations; and journalists.
- Multiple-entry visas valid for 1 year to professional drivers, train crews, participants in scientific, cultural, artistic activities, including university and other exchange programmes and sport events, and participants in twin programmes of cities, provided that during the previous 12 months the visa applicant has obtained at least one visa, has made use of it in accordance with the laws on entry and stay of the visited State(s) and there are reasons for requesting a multiple-entry visa.
- From 2 years to 5 years to the categories mentioned in (b) provided that during the previous 24 months they have made use of the two 1-year multi-entry visas in accordance with the laws on entry and stay of the visited State(s) and the reasons for requesting a multi-entry visa are still valid.
A decision on a visa application shall be taken within 10 calendar days of the date of the receipt of the complete visa application and the supporting documents. For diplomatic missions and consular posts that have an appointment system, the period of time to get an appointment is not counted as part of the processing time.
This period may be extended up to 30 days when further scrutiny is needed. In urgent cases, the period for taking a decision may be reduced to 2 days or less.
The concerned categories of persons may leave the territory on the grounds of valid identity documents issued by diplomatic missions or consular posts without any visa.
For reasons of force majeure, visas will be extended free of charge for the period required for the return.
Holders of diplomatic passports from Ukraine are exempted from the visa requirement for periods of up to 90 days per period of 180 days.
In total 24 States apply Regulation No 539/2001 and have a full common visa policy which goes beyond the list of third countries whose nationals are subject to visa obligation. These are the "Schengen States": Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
A visa issued by one of these 24 countries is valid, in principle, not just for the country which issued it, but also for the other 23 countries.
The visa sticker, which looks the same for all Schengen States, bears the words "valid for Schengen States". Alphanumeric codes also indicate the country in which the visa was issued.
The procedures and conditions of issue for Schengen visas are set out in the Common Consular Instructions, published in Official Journal C 326 of 22 December 2005.
The various types of visa are defined in the Common Consular Instructions (CCI).
- Short-stay visa (Type "C", as indicated on the visa sticker). This visa is issued for one, two or several visits. Its period of validity varies. It allows stays which do not exceed three months over a six-month period.
- Transit visa (Type "B", as indicated on the visa sticker). This visa is issued to persons who must transit through the territory of one or more Schengen States before continuing their journey to a third country. This visa may be issued for one, two or, in exceptional circumstances, several transits. The duration of each transit must not exceed five days.
- Airport transit visas (Type "A" visa, as indicated on the visa sticker). This visa is required for nationals of certain third countries who are flying to another third country but making a stopover or transfer in an airport of a Schengen State.
During this transfer or stopover, the persons concerned must remain in the international transit area of the airport without entering the territory of the Schengen State in question.
Non-Schengen States use the same three main visa categories.
Cyprus, Bulgaria and Rumania still issue national visas. This means that these visas are only valid for a short stay in the territory of the Member State which issued them.
Practical example:A short-stay visa issued by Cyprus only allows a stay in Cyprus. A further stay in a Schengen State requires a Schengen visa as well. For a stay in another Member State of the European Union which does not belong to Schengen, for example, Bulgaria, a Bulgarian visa is also require
Specific cases concerning transit for Cyprus, Rumania and Bulgaria (Member States not yet fully integrated into the Schengen area)
In a 2006 decision, the Council ruled that the Member States who joined the EU in 2004 could recognise the visas and residence permits issued by Schengen or non-Schengen States as equivalent to national visas. This equivalence is valid only for transit, for a period not exceeding five days. After the extension of the Schengen area in December 2007, these rules are still applicable only for Cyprus.
The Commission has presented legislative proposals extending these rules to Bulgaria and Rumania.
You can apply for a visa to the consular service of the main destination Schengen State. Visas are only issued at borders in exceptional and duly justified cases.
A stay in one or more Schengen States requires an initial visit to the consulate of the main destination country.
- Practical example: If you wish to travel around Europe for three weeks, spending two weeks in Italy and one in France, you should go to the Italian consulate.
It is sometimes difficult to determine the main destination, for example where the traveller intends to make several consecutive short stays of approximately the same length in various Schengen States. In this case, you should go to the consulate of the country of the first entry into the Schengen area.
- Practical example: A businessman plans a trip to Europe to meet business partners in various European capitals, in each of which he will stay for one or two days. He has booked a trip to Frankfurt, from which he will continue on his journey. In this case, the appropriate consulate is the German consulate.
For a stay in one or more non-Schengen States, you should go to the consulates of each of the countries you plan to visit.
The minimum requirements are set out below. You must:
- complete and sign a visa application form. Schengen States use a standard form, available in all the official languages of the European Union. The form is free. You can download it on the related link section;
- present a current passport whose date of expiry is later than the end of the proposed stay;
- describe the purpose and circumstances of your visit – see point I.1 – list of documents to be submitted for various categories of persons regarding the purpose of the journey;
- specify means of transport;
- demonstrate sufficient means of subsistence for the proposed journey and for the return trip to Ukraine (for example: certification of financial means, lodging in a private home or an invitation by a firm or an institution);
- demonstrate that you have travel insurance for the trip with minimum cover of €30 000.
In the consulates of the Schengen States in question you can obtain specific details on the supporting documentation to be provided according to the various situations and types of visa.
The consulate examines and checks the supporting documentation submitted by the applicant. Where necessary, further documentation may be requested. If there are any doubts, a one-to-one interview with the applicant should clear them up. In examining a visa application, it is essential to be satisfied that the applicant intends to return to his or her place of origin. The consulate will also check that the applicant is not registered in the Schengen Information System (SIS) as being banned from entry and that he or she does not constitute a threat to public order.
The Common Consular Instructions provide that the consulate which receives the visa application should stamp the passport of the applicant. The stamp indicates, by means of alphanumeric codes, the type of visa requested from the Consulate, the Schengen State to which the consulate belongs and the date.
The main reason for stamping the passport is to inform other consulates that a visa application has already been submitted, to avoid successive visa applications in different consulates.
The Community Code on the rules governing the movement of persons across borders (published in OJ L 105 of 13 April 2006) sets out the conditions for entry into the territory of the Member States. Holding a valid passport and visa (in the case of citizens of third countries where a visa is needed) are only two of the conditions of entry.
The conditions of entry are initially checked by the consulates which examine visa applications. The issuing of a visa presupposes that the consulate considered that the conditions of entry were fulfilled at the time the visa was granted.
The conditions of entry are checked a second time when the person presents him/herself at the external border (land, sea or airport) of the Member States. If the border police decides that a person holding a visa does not fulfil the conditions of entry (for example: the person does not have the necessary means of subsistence for the duration of their stay), they will be refused entry, even if they have a visa in their passport.
Important: Visa holders should carry with them supporting documents to demonstrate that they fulfil the conditions of entry, so that they can present them if need be during the checks at the EU border.
9. Is there any specific procedure which has to be followed after arriving in the territory of a Schengen or non-Schengen State?
The duration of the stay in the territory of a Schengen State is the period indicated on the visa sticker (in days, to be calculated from the date on the passport entry stamp). It is not necessary to apply for a residence permit for this period as it is already covered by the visa.
Some Schengen and non-Schengen States require that the visa-holders report their presence to an administrative authority within a certain period.
It is advisable to ask whether this is necessary when applying for the visa and when presenting yourself at the border.
The "C" Schengen visa is a short-stay visa, valid for the period specified when applying for the visa.
If you wish to carry out an economic activity during your short stay, you will have to complete a series of specific formalities to obtain a work permit.
Important: It is not permitted to carry out an economic activity when travelling under a Type "C" Schengen visa which has been issued for private or family reasons, or for the purposes of tourism. Carrying out such an activity could lead to sanctions.
A Type "C" Schengen short-stay visa can only be extended in Europe in exceptional circumstances. The extension may never exceed the maximum duration of a Type "C" visa (three months in a six-month period).
If a national from Ukraine finds that he or she is unable to leave the territory of the Member State by the date indicated on their visa for reasons of force majeure, the term of their visa shall be extended free of charge in accordance with the legislation applied by the receiving State for the period required for their return to their state of residence (see point I.7.).
The Schengen Type "C" visa is issued for a short stay. Use of a Type "C" visa in order to apply, when in Europe, for a residence permit, is an abuse of the Type "C" visa. In other than really exceptional circumstances, the residence permit will be denied.
- Can I find out the reasons for the refusal?
The Common Consular Instructions do not oblige Schengen States to inform visa applicants of the reasons for a refusal. Whether or not reasons are given is governed by the legislation of each Member State. In the case of non-Schengen States, it is also national legislation which governs the question whether reasons are given for visa refusals.
- Can I appeal?
The Common Consular Instructions do not oblige Schengen States to offer the possibility of appeal against a visa refusal. This question is governed by the legislation of each Schengen State.
For non-Schengen States, it is also national legislation which governs possible appeals against visa refusal decisions.
- Can I apply again after my application has been refused?
In principle, a decision to refuse a visa has no consequences for the future. A visa request is examined on the basis of the application form, the supporting documentation and information provided by the applicant, in particular during the one-to-one interview.
Nevertheless, the reasons which led a consulate to refuse a visa in the first place could well be based on circumstances which will not change over a given period of time (such as the specific circumstances of the applicant, including their social, professional, economic, family or personal situation), making it possible for the person to be deemed an immigration risk. It is possible, therefore, that the next Schengen consulate which receives an application from the person in question will draw the same conclusions as the first one, that is, that the visa should be refused.