European Commission Implements New Fraud Busting Schengen Visa
The European Commission is set to introduce a brand new sticker format for Schengen Visas issued after December 21st. These revamped travel authorizations have been introduced to combat fraud and prevent forgeries and this change marks the first alteration to their design in over 20 years.
As of the December implementation date, all Schengen countries issuing visas to foreign citizens will produce only the newer design, with the previous format being retired. This will not require any action from current holders of valid visas, with previously issued documents still remaining in use until their date of expiry.
The changes have been rolled out gradually over the past 2 months, with Finland becoming the first country to introduce the new format on November 11th. As of the December 21st deadline all 26 current member states will be required to follow suit and issue only the new and more secure design.
Under the current visa policy of the EU, travel authorization is necessary for 3rd country nationals visiting the European Union’s Schengen area for periods of more than 90 days. These are issued for a duration of up to 5 years. Upon arrival, this grants visitors the ability to visit and travel through all 26 Schengen member states without requiring additional national visas once they’ve formally entered the European borderless zone.
In addition to the change of design, the European Commission is seeking to introduce further changes to its visa policy. A brand new visa code to the Schengen area has been announced and is set to start coming into effect early in 2020. These adjustments will not only reduce the risk of illegal forgeries but will also speed up the procedure of approvals for applicants.
The process of applying for visas is to be simplified with electronic form submissions becoming possible for the first time in most countries. Submission periods will also lengthen from 3 to 6 months, giving applicants much longer to get their documents approved before traveling to Europe.
The fees for Schengen visas will also change and will be rising from €60 to €80. These higher costs have come in to reflect inflation and the increased costs of policing EU borders. However, a greater number of younger travelers under the age of 18 will also be spared the usual visa fees.
Additionally, the EU is aiming to reward those with a positive visa history. Those who have no history of penalties or overstaying will now be offered longer validity on newer visas as well as multiple entry documents.
As yet only Switzerland and the Netherlands have announced an implementation date of the new rules. These will come into effect for 3rd country visa applicants to the countries as of February 2020. However, the other 24 Schengen countries will be expected to follow suit soon after.
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