The European Union (EU) has laid out new regulations for short-term travelers effective 2 February 2020. This move has been in discussion with the European Parliament since June 2019 and it essentially encourages more travelers to visit the region, which will help to support the EU economy.

In this blog, I will examine the new visa rules, their scope and impact on the mobility of short-term travelers in the EU.

The changes apply to travelers who need visas to travel to the EU from their home countries. No visa policy changes will be applied to travelers from countries benefitting from visa-free travel to the EU, as the new rules do not apply to citizens of those countries.

The new rules cover short-stay visas for the 22 EU countries that are part of the region—Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden—as well as for four associated countries: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. A uniform short-stay visa issued by one of these countries covers travel throughout the 26 Schengen countries for up to 90 days in a 180-day period.

Under the new rules, travelers can now enjoy a simpler and more user-friendly visa application process, where:

  • Visa applications can be submitted up to six months prior to the intended date of travel (nine months for seafarers), instead of three months previously, enabling travelers to better plan their trips
  • Multiple-entry visas with a long validity from one to five years are now easier to obtain, saving money and efforts of those who travel frequently
  • Frequent travelers with an uneventful visa history (without incidences of overstays, fines, etc.) can be granted multiple-entry visas with a gradually increasing validity period from one year to a maximum of five years
  • Applicants may only need to appear in person when fingerprints are to be collected (i.e., once every 59 months)

< p>The rest of the requirements remain unchanged in terms of processing times, that is, it can take up to 15 working days for processing applications in regular cases and up to 45 working days for processing applications in cases of "consultation country nationals" (Schengen States require that they be consulted on visa applications submitted to other Schengen States by citizens of certain countries). All the other related documentation such as medical insurance requirements, photographs and related documentation remain unchanged. However, there is an increase in the visa fee which will vary by country, which travelers must review before submitting their applications.

Further, UK nationals can continue to travel visa-free to the EU post-Brexit, so when it comes to short-term stays in the Schengen region, the revised rules will not affect UK nationals.

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