EU To Start A New And Easy System For Obtaining A Schengen Visa By 2026

The European Union (EU) Council has approved the digitalization of Schengen visa application methods, and has additionally disposed of come consulate appointment and visa stickers.

Somewhere in the range of 22 and 25 million visa applications overall will be handled through this platform when the equivalent is launched. The two candidates and the Member States will profit from this platform as this will save them time and money.

The European Union is one bit nearer to the digitalisation of Schengen Visa application procedures, after the Council of the EU endorsed last Monday two new guidelines.

The coalition plans to begin introducing a totally new system for getting a Schengen Visa by 2026, making it not only simpler for a huge number of travellers to apply, but in addition more affordable and less tedious, reports.

The EU also plans to make the process for applying for a short-term European visa completely online by 2028.

In 2026, the EU visa application platform and the digital visa would coexist. After the end of the transition period (end 2028), all visa applications would be lodged online through the EU visa application platform (except a few exceptional cases for which a paper procedure would remain possible).

Digitalisation of the Visa Procedure:
Taking into account the pre-pandemic trend of visa applications, by the time this platform starts fully functioning in 2028, between 22 and 25 million visa applications worldwide will be processed through this system, saving applicants hours of hard work and money, and the Member States millions of euros in staff and resources.

According to Besart Bajrami, the founder of SchengenVisaInfo and VisaGuide.World, two leading visa platforms with an extensive annual readership surpassing 60 million, both travellers and the Member States will benefit from the platform, which he has called a revolution in the way the EU handles visas for visitors.

This is without a doubt a revolution in the sector of EU visa applications, which will completely reshape travellers’ experience on getting a Schengen visa, making it not only less expensive, but also less time and energy consuming, and thus less stressful. The platform will also eliminate the possibility of rejection for applying at the wrong embassy.

Besart Bajrami, founder of SchengenVisaInfo and VisaGuide.World also expects consulates to avoid backlog of visa applications and visa decisions to be delivered within the foreseen period. However, he is a bit skeptical, when it comes to the full functionalization of the platform by 2028.

Back at the beginning of 2022, when the EU announced its plans for such a platform, it had claimed that the same will be ready by 2025. However, now the EU claims that the Member States will gradually start transitioning the in-person procedures online only in 2026, with the same expected to transition only in 2028 completely.

Regardless of the country or number of countries a traveller wishes to travel to, whether for tourism, to visit family members, or business, all applicants will have to file their request for a Schengen Visa through a single platform.

The platform, which hasn’t been developed yet, and its domain remains unknown, will then determine which Schengen country is responsible for processing the application, and then forward it to the respective authorities.

While very little is known about what information the platform will ask travellers about, it will be a must for every Schengen Visa applicant to give their:

Name, surname, place and date of birth
Passport information
Dates of previous trips to the Schengen Area
Information on previously held visas and trips made worldwide

Travellers will also have to answer questions on which country they wish to visit, how they plan to fund their trip future trip, their accommodation, flights, etc. It remains unknown how precisely travellers will be asked to provide proof for each of them.

One of the main changes visa applicants will experience in the future when it comes to getting a Schengen visa will be the number of documents required. While proof on several aspects of the application will still be required, applicants will no longer have to present them physically, but instead, the digital form of them will be enough.

Travellers will have to upload the required documents to the platform, amongst which will be:

Passport scan
Digital biometric photos
Proof on means of travel, i.e. flight tickets
Proof of accommodation

Many of the criteria for Schengen visa application documents will remain the same, or at least similar, with the only switch being that they will no longer have to be printed.

The EU will be investing millions in the new platform, and its maintenance in the near future. Yet, this will not affect Schengen visa fees, as they will remain the same as currently. Applicants’ payment method data will be secured at the highest levels.

First-time applicants will have to apply in-person:

Some applicants will still have to show up in person at the visa centre, or consulate, in order to file an application. However, this is a limited list of only three groups:

Those applying for a Schengen Visa for the very first time

Those whose biometric data are not valid anymore

Those who have a new travel document

Yet, even for those who have to show up at the visa centre in person, it will still be easier as they won’t have to wait for an appointment, or wait in line to submit their application due to crowds of people waiting to apply.

Travellers will no longer have visa stickers posted in their passport pages, as the same will be replaced with digital barcodes. The visa sticker will soon become a relict of the past, that avid travellers can keep as a ‘souvenir’ from their past trips,

The first thing that the EU intends to achieve with its plan to digitalise the Schengen visa application process is reducing the costs and burden of those procedures on the Member States and their authorities.

Once the platform is introduced and launched, consulates will no longer have to hire tons of staff in order to deal with visa applications. Most contracts with third parties like the VFS Global, BLS International, VisaMetric, and TLS will be terminated or renewed in order to outsource fewer capacities to them.

At the same time, travellers will only have to pay the visa fee, thus saving their money on processing fees introduced by third parties, which sometimes are as high as the visa fee itself.

Visa Waiver: Foreigners Can Now Apply Through A Mobile App

The high number of applications has created a backlog at many Schengen consulates worldwide. In order to avoid them, applicants often lodge their visa request at the consulate of another Member State, which they do not plan on visiting. This is called ‘visa shopping’ and is highly condemned by the EU and its Member States.

The new Schengen visa platform will terminate this practice once and forever, as the system will automatically determine the authorities of which country are responsible for processing each visa application.

EU’s goal is to make the Schengen Area a more secure zone not only for its citizens but also for travellers visiting. The Member States will soon ditch visa stickers, and instead, start issuing visas in digital format, as a 2D barcode, cryptographically signed, which will reduce security risks related to counterfeit and stolen visa stickers.

Nationals from non-EU/Schengen countries that enjoy visa-free entry won’t experience any changes due to the shift to digital Schengen visa applications.

However, starting from May 2025, they will need to secure an ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System) via an online process, incurring a fee of €7.

The process of acquiring an ETIAS, in comparison to a Schengen visa, will be significantly swifter and more straightforward, even though both applications will be handled online.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *