The European Parliament approved the proposal to reform the rules on Schengen Visas with 428 votes in favor, 123 against and 56 abstentions on April 17. The adoption of new regulations will simplify the procedures of the visa application.
Last March, the European Commission proposed several new rules for the Schengen Visas. Applications can be submitted up to six months in advance instead of three. Travelers may also be able to fill in and sign their applications electronically.
In terms of multiple entry visas, frequent travelers can receive a gradually increasing validity period from one year to a maximum of five years.
Tourists hold their passports. /VCG Photo
Moreover, the visa fee will see a modest increase from 60 euros (67.76 U.S. dollars) to 80 euros (90.35 U.S. dollars) to increase staff numbers, ensure stronger security screenings, and upgrade IT equipment and software.
According to the proposal, the conditions for processing visa applications can be adapted depending on whether non-EU country cooperates satisfactorily on the return and readmission of irregular migrants.
The European Commission welcomed the adoption of the European Union (EU) visa policy. Dimitris Avramopoulos, commissioner for Home Affairs, Migration and Citizenship 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."
Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European commissioner for Home Affairs, Migration and Citizenship. /VCG Photo
Based on the EU legislative procedure, the new rules will now have to be formally approved by the European Council. The adopted rules will be applicable six months after the official approval.
The Schengen Area is currently comprised of 26 European states, including 22 EU member states and four European Free Trade Association (EFTA) member states of Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.
(Cover: The flag of the European Union. /VCG Photo)