The Schengen visa is one of the most famous visas in the world, granting to its holder the possibility of traveling to 26 European countries, 22 of them part of the European Union.
The number of Schengen visa applicants has been steadily increasing every year.
Currently, travelers from 104 countries and entities need to obtain a visa to enter the EU for stays up to 3 months within the Schengen Zone.
The EU is changing some of the rules to the Schengen Visa Code that regulates visa issuance and benefits, facilitating the application procedures for travelers and consulate staff.
In May 2018, the European Commission adopted a proposal on the revision of the Regulation (EC) No. 810/2009, under the purpose of strengthening the common visa policy while taking into account migration and security concerns. The revised form of the Visa Code also suggested that the role of the EU’s Visa Policy should increase more in relation to cooperation with third countries.
All Schengen Visa applicants lodging an application file from the first Monday of February 2020 and on, will be subject to the new Schengen Visa Code.
Officials of several EU countries implementing the Schengen Acquis, confirmed that the new Visa Code will start implementation in the same period in all Member States.
Since Regulation (EU) No. 1155/2019 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 amending Regulation (EC) No. 810/2009 establishing a Community Code on Visas (Visa Code) is directly applicable in all EU Member States in accordance with the Treaties, all Schengen countries, will apply it from 2nd of February 2020.
The new rules will bring several changes to the visa application procedures and improve the benefits that come with a visa. The main changes foreseen by the updated code are as follows:
• Higher visa fees;
• Extended application submission periods;
• Electronic application forms in most countries;
• Representative authorities of every Schengen Member must be present in every third-country in terms of visa admission after February 2;
• Frequent travelers with a positive visa history to benefit from visas with lengthier validity.
The new code also introduces a mechanism that asserts, whether the visa fees should change or remain the same, for every three years.
Another mechanism that will use visa processing as leverage will also be introduced, in a bid to improve cooperation with third countries on readmission.
The first way how applicants will be affected by the new visa code is through the visa fees.
Applicants that used to pay € 60 per application will now need to pay € 80, while those that had to pay € 35 will now need to pay € 40. This includes children and other categories that were granted with the benefit of paying lower fees. Children aged 0 to 6 remain exempt from the visa fees.
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