schengen-visa-process-to-be-fully-digitalized-by-2025

Schengen Visa Process to be Fully Digitalized by 2025

Published on : April 28, 2022

On April 27, 2022, the European Commission came up with the proposal - through the New Pact of Migration and Asylum - that visa travel to the EU be made easier. The proposals include - 

  • Digitalisation of Schengen visa process, 
  • Replacing the visa sticker, and 
  • Introducing the possibility of applying through the European online visa platform. 

By 2025, there is proposed to be a complete digitalization of visa procedures.

The proposal of the Commission will now be open for discussion by the European Parliament and the Council. Five years will then be given to the Schengen Member States to switchover to the common online visa platform. The development of the platform is expected to commence in 2024, becoming operational in 2026. Keeping in view the five-year transition period, all Schengen Member States can be using the common online visa platform in 2031. 

With the proposed changes in the Schengen visa application process, the EU will provide “a quick, safe and web-based EU visa application platform” for the nationals of 102 third countries that require a Schengen visa for traveling to the EU for tourism or on business

Several Schengen Member Countries have already taken steps for moving visa applications online. However, there are differences in the extent to which this has been achieved. Only some Schengen countries offer online Schengen visa fee payment. 

What will change with the digitalization of the Schengen visa process?

Through digitalization, the following changes will come about in the Schengen visa process - 

  • Easier to apply, 
  • A more secure visa, 
  • Can apply online, 
  • Can pay the Schengen visa fee via a single EU platform, regardless of the country to visit in the Schengen Area, 
  • The EU platform will automatically determine the country that will be examining the Schengen visa application, specifically when multiple Schengen countries are on the itinerary, 
  • The EU platform to give updated information on visas, requirements, procedures, supporting documents, visa fee, biometric requirement etc. 
  • No requirement for appearing in person at the relevant consulate unless - (1) applying for the first time so biometrics needed, (2) biometric data no longer valid, or (3) with a new travel document. 
  • State-of-the-art security features included in the visa, to be made more secure than the current visa sticker. 
  • Protection of fundamental rights at all times under the new system.

FAQs

Why is the European Commission proposing to introduce online Schengen visa applications?

The EU’s visa policy will be developed as a tool towards a more modern, customer-friendly and secure way of managing visits overseas by third-country nationals to the Schengen Area. 

What are the Schengen visa changes proposed by the European Commission?

Visa changes proposed by the European Commission are for - 

  • Replacing the Schengen visa sticker, 
  • Digitalization of the Schengen visa process, and 
  • Introducing the ability to submit Schengen visa applications online through a European online visa platform. 

After Schengen visa digitalization, can I still submit paper-based application?

All Schengen visa applications will have to be submitted digitally via the EU Visa Application platform. However, paper-based applications would still be accepted in individual cases and for humanitarian reasons. 

Will I have to go to the consulate in person to apply for a Schengen visa?

With the proposed digitalization, all applicants will be able to submit their application completely online. A visit to the Visa Application Centre (VAC) or consulate will be needed only if biometrics are required. 

Will it be easier to get a Schengen visa with digitalization?

While it will become easier to apply, the conditions to be met as well as the subsequent examination process will remain the same. 

Who will build and manage the future Schengen application platform?

The proposed EU Visa Application platform will be built and maintained by eu-LISA (European Union Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice).

What will the application process be via the EU Visa Application platform?

  1.  Check on the EU Visa Application platform if a Schengen visa is required. 
  2.  If a visa is needed, create a secure document, fill up the application form, and upload the required documents. 
  3.  Pay the Schengen visa fee and submit the application. 
  4.  The application will be examined by the Schengen country that is the main destination. 
  5.  Status of application can be checked online via the platform. 
  6. Notifications will be issued regarding the application status. 
  7. Following approval, the Schengen visa application can be accessed online. 

What are the benefits of a single European portal for Schengen visas?

A single application platform offers a seamless application procedure regardless of the Schengen country to be visited. All submitted applications can be accessed in one place. 

What happens to the existing national portals?

The national portals will be gradually phased out during a transition period and replaced by a single application platform at the EU level. 

When will the new Schengen visa system become operational?

In the year 2031, considering the five-year transition period. The platform will become operational in 2026, the development of the same beginning in 2024. 

Which Schengen countries will be a part of the proposed digitalized EU visa process?

The digitalization of Schengen visa and the EU Visa Application platform will be applicable for 26 countries in total -  Germany, France, Italy, Poland, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Portugal, Sweden, Austria, Malta, Slovakia, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Czech Republic, Latvia, Finland, Lithuania, Iceland, and Liechtenstein.

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