Digitalisation of Schengen Visa Applications

Chetcuti Cauchi | Published on 11 Jul 2023

Digitalisation of Schengen Visa Application img

The European Parliament and the Council politically agreed on the digitalisation of the Schengen visa procedure which is a key objective of the Schengen Strategy presented by the European Commission in 2021. Initially, the European Commission had proposed this in the New Pact on Migration and Asylum in 2020 which had proposed to digitalise visa application to ensure an effective management of the European Union’s external borders. 

Digitalisation to Simplify Schengen Visa Applications

The agreed rule aim at modernising, simplifying, and harmonising the visa applications from non-EU nationals and for European Member states granting such visas through this online process. Presently, Schengen Visa applications are still relying heavily on paperwork, placing a burden on both the application and the Member State processing such an application. Moreover, printed visa stickers are also more prone to fraud, theft and falsification, something which online visas will improve significantly. 

Digitalisation of Visa Sticker and Visa Application

Two main aspects of the visa procedure are being targeted by this regulation:

  1. The digitalisation of the visa sticker
  2. The digitalisation of the visa application

These two points will be harmonised by the setting up of an EU online Visa application platform which will provide for an online application where applicants can pay the visa fee electronically, regardless of the Schengen country they want to visit. The platform will provide applicants with a secure account from which they can apply and receive a decision on their application. 

Once approved, instead of a Schengen visa sticker, the applicant will be issued with a digital Schengen Visa barcode which will also for short-term and long-term visas. 

Priority on Security and Efficiency in the Visa System

Commenting on this development, the Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson held that the EU “must prioritise security and efficiency in our visa system. With the implementation of a digital visa sticker and an online application platform, we can guarantee both. The agreed regulation will help us combat fraud, protect against falsification, and simplify the process, benefiting both travelers and the European Union”

The next step for this agreement to be formalised is for this regulation to be formally adopted by the European Parliament and the European Council. 

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