The European Union is to begin negotiating a proposal to enable travellers who require a visa to transit through — or make a short stay in countries within — the border-free Schengen area of Europe to apply for and store a digital version of the credential on their smartphone.
The proposed digital visa takes the form of a cryptographically signed 2D barcode that would replace the existing physical sticker issued to travellers from the countries outside the EU whose citizens are required to obtain a Schengen visa and will “reduce security risks related to counterfeit and stolen visa stickers”, the European Council says.
“The proposed new rules will create a visa application platform. All applications for Schengen visas will be made through this platform, a single website, which will forward them to the relevant national visa systems.
“On this platform, visa applicants will be able to introduce all relevant data, upload electronic copies of their travel and supporting documents, and pay their visa fees. They will also be notified of the decisions concerning their visa.
“In-person appearance at the consulate will only be necessary for first-time applicants, persons whose biometric data are no longer valid and those with a new travel document.
“When a person intends to visit several Schengen countries, the platform will automatically determine which one of them is responsible for examining the application on the basis of the duration of stay.
“However, the applicant will also have the possibility to indicate whether the application needs to be processed by a specific member state according to the purpose of travel.”
“A digital Schengen visa will make it easier for legitimate travellers to apply and will at the same time help make the Schengen area safer,” Sweden’s Minister for Migration Maria Malmer Stenergard adds.
“Online applications will reduce the number of trips to the consulate for travellers and make the process smoother for national administrations. At the same time, the digital visa will put an end to the risk of falsification and theft of the visa sticker.”
The proposal to introduce a digital visa for entry into the Schengen area was originally made by the EU Commission in April 2022 and will now be subject to negotiation between the EU Council and the European Parliament prior to approval and implementation.
The Schengen area comprises all EU member countries other than Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ireland and Romania, as well as non-EU members Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
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