EU Council green lights revolutionary online Schengen visa
In a groundbreaking step toward modernising travel procedures, the Council of the European Union has granted approval for the digitalisation of the Schengen visa application process. This move is set to transform the way individuals apply for visas to enter the Schengen Area.
VisaGuideWorld reports that the digitalisation of Schengen visa procedures will enable applicants to submit their visa applications online, eliminating the need to visit a consulate or endure long waiting periods for a response.
Highlighting the significance of this decision, Spanish Minister for the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska Gómez, emphasised that online Schengen visa applications would be a game changer. The introduction of this system is expected to have a positive impact on both citizens and administrations, streamlining the application process and expediting overall visa processing.
The key development is the creation of a unified visa application platform, where, with a few exceptions, Schengen visa applications will be processed. This user-friendly platform allows applicants to input relevant information, upload electronic copies of travel documents, submit supporting materials, and conveniently pay the visa fee.
Applicants will also receive notifications on their visa decision through the same platform. The system will automatically determine which country will process applications for those planning to visit multiple Schengen countries, although applicants can still specify their preferred processing country.
Under the new regulations, physical appearances at consulates will become largely unnecessary, except for first-time applicants, those with expired biometric data, and those with a new travel document. This reduction in in-person requirements marks a significant stride toward a more accessible and applicant-friendly process.
The Council’s announcement also introduces a technological upgrade, replacing the current visa sticker with a cryptographically signed barcode. This modern feature enhances the security of visa documentation, reducing the risk of visa forgery.
While the EU has not specified the official launch date for online Schengen visa applications, authorities have indicated that the new rules will take effect once the development of the visa platform and digital visa is complete. The move signifies a significant leap forward in simplifying and modernising the Schengen visa application process for individuals travelling to the European Union.