Commissioner for Home Affairs, Migration and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said: "The new rules will facilitate tourism, trade and business while enhancing our security standards to detect those who pose a threat or have no right to enter the EU. They will also help improve cooperation with non-EU countries on the return and readmission of irregular migrants."
The adopted text will shortly be published in the Official Journal of the European Union and the new rules will become applicable approximately 6 months later.
More flexible procedures
Travellers will be able to submit their applications up to 6 months in advance of their planned trip (9 months for seafarers), instead of the current 3 months, and in most cases, directly from their country of residence. Where available, they may also fill in and sign their applications electronically. Minors between 6 and 18 years old may be exempted from the visa fee.
Multiple entry visas with longer validity
Thanks to the introduction of a harmonised approach to the issuing of multiple entry visas, frequent travellers with a positive visa history can receive a multiple-entry visa with a gradually increasing validity period from 1 year to a maximum of 5 years, saving time and costs for applicants and Member States. Travellers' fulfilment of entry conditions will be thoroughly and repeatedly verified in all cases.
Additional resources for strengthening security
To ensure member states can better cover the costs of visa processing without constituting a deterrent for visa applicants, a moderate increase of the visa fee (from €60 to €80 for standard procedure) will be introduced. This modest increase will allow Member States to maintain adequate levels of consular staff worldwide to ensure stronger security screenings, as well as the upgrading of IT equipment and software, without representing an obstacle for the visa applicants.
The increase of the general visa fee will not have any impact on the lower visa fee (€35 for standard procedure and €70 for late applications) set in the Visa Facilitation Agreements concluded between the EU and a number of third countries, such as Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Therefore, the current visa fees of €35 and €70 applicable to all Russian citizens will remain unchanged.
Improving cooperation on readmission
The regulation will also contribute to improving cooperation with third countries on readmission by introducing a new mechanism for using visa processing as leverage.
Under this mechanism, the Commission will regularly assess third countries' cooperation on readmission. Where a country is not cooperating, the Commission will propose that the Council adopts an implementing decision applying specific restrictive visa measures related to visa processing and, eventually, to the visa fee.
On the other hand, if a country is found to be cooperating on readmission, the Commission may propose that the Council adopts an implementing decision providing for either a reduction in the visa fee, a reduction in the time to decide on visa applications, or an increase in the period of validity of multiple entry visas.
Currently, citizens from 105 non-EU countries and entities are required to hold a visa when travelling to Schengen area for short-stay visits (the full list is available here).
The full Schengen visas statistics for 2018 are available here.
Regulation amending the Visa code
EU-Russia Visa Facilitation Agreement