What We’re Watching: The EU’s Moves to Modernize the Schengen Visa

Update: The European Commission, one of the legislative bodies of the European Union, has proposed changes to the widely used Schengen C visitor visa. These proposals, which need additional approvals before they take effect, are designed to modernize and streamline EU visa rules, “facilitating the process for issuing visas both for legitimate travelers and Member States, while strengthening the security standards of the visa procedure.”

Key elements of the proposal include:
– faster processing times
– allowing applications up to six months in advance of travel
– granting multiple-entry visas for up to 5 years for trusted regular travelers
– a new “visa upon entry” for short stays
– an increase in the visa fees from €60 to €80, with proceeds supporting increased consular staffing and security upgrades

The proposal now goes to the European Council and Parliament for debate and decision.

EIG Analysis: These changes, once fully implemented, will make it easier for those requiring visas (such as Indians and Chinese nationals) to travel to Europe for business and tourism. The greatest benefit will be for frequent travelers and those who travel on short notice.

Background: The Schengen Area is comprised of 26 countries in mainland Europe. As a result of an agreement between these 26 countries, the Schengen C visitor visa allows travel throughout the Schengen area for a maximum of 90 days out of 180 days for business or tourist activity. While many countries are visa-exempt for business travel, this visa requirement can be especially arduous for nationals of India, China, Turkey, and other visa-subject countries who can face long waits for visa appointments and receive visas with short validities.

A full list of countries whose nationals must be in possession of a visa when entering the Schengen Region can be found on the European Commission’s website.

Those needing assistance with Schengen visas or other business travel visas can contact Global@eiglaw.com for further guidance.