Due to the European Union’s (EU) decision to digitise the visa application process, UAE citizens intending to visit Schengen countries will soon be able to avoid the long lines, submission of passports, and lengthy waiting periods. Taking this significant step towards digitising the visa process would help speed up the Schengen visa application procedure for UAE citizens.
On Wednesday, the ambassadors of the EU member states approved the Council’s negotiating mandate for a move to digitalise the visa application process. It provides the possibility of applying for a visa online and replaces a digital visa for the present visa sticker. It is meant to improve the Schengen area’s security and simplify the visa application process.
Swedish Minister of Migration Maria Malmer Stenergard said, “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. 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 digital move was met with enthusiasm by the tour operators, who agreed that it would be a significant step in promoting Europe as a travel destination. People expressed their appreciation for digitisation and indicated they would be more likely to visit the EU. Online visa applications will be a great first step because they can be completed quickly and with the help of a short checklist. Furthermore, having to present their passports to agencies and wait for visa stamps can be inconvenient, and it might be difficult to acquire an appointment for the visa application. As a result, this measure will surely benefit travellers.
According to the new proposal, a platform for visa applications would be developed, enabling all Schengen visa applications to be recorded on a single website. The website will send the applications to the appropriate national systems for acquiring visas.
In addition to paying their visa fees, applicants for visas will be able to submit all the required information, including electronic copies of their trip and supporting papers. Users will be able to monitor the progress of their visa application.
Only first-time applicants, those whose biometric data are no longer valid, and those with new travel documents will require an in-person presence at the consulate.
The platform will automatically decide which Schengen country is in charge of reviewing the application when a person plans to travel to several Schengen nations, depending on the duration of the stay. Nevertheless, the applicant will be able to choose whether the application should be handled by a certain member state based on the purpose of the travel.
Under the new regulations, visas will be sent digitally and include a 2D barcode that is cryptographically signed. This action is intended to reduce the chances of visa sticker theft and counterfeiting, which will put a stop to these issues. The new digital visa type is more secure and will aid in preserving the integrity of the Schengen region.
EU Member of Parliament (MEP) Matja Nemec stated that “A digital visa would reduce security risks posed by physical stickers, and a unified system would help people see the EU as a single geographical entity.”