The Council of the European Union has given the green light to the digitalisation of the visa application procedure for those planning to travel to the Schengen Area.
This means that those who need a Schengen visa will soon be able to apply for the document online, without having to visit a consulate or embassy and wait for a long time to receive an answer on their application.
It is expected that around 18 million people from third countries under the visa-free regime will benefit from this digitalized system by the time it is launched.
Commenting on the decision, the acting Spanish minister for the interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska Gómez, said that the online application process will have a positive impact on citizens as well as on administrative processes.
He further stressed that the online application system is expected to streamline the entire process, allowing national administrations to respond to visa requests more swiftly and effectively.
The possibility of applying for a Schengen visa online will be a great improvement for citizens and for the processing of the application. It will simplify the application process for travellers and, at the same time, will ease the burden on national administrations, which will be able to respond more quickly and effectively.
Single EU Visa Application Platform Will Be Launched
As the Council explains, the key development is the creation of an EU visa application platform. With only a few exceptions, Schengen visa applications will transition to this user-friendly online platform.
On the platform, Schengen visa applicants will be able to enter all necessary information, upload electronic copies of their travel and supporting documents, and pay their visa fees.
Moreover, through the same platform, applicants will receive notifications on their visa decision.
The platform will automatically determine the country that will process applications for those who plan to visit multiple Schengen Member States. However, applicants will continue to be able to indicate if they wish their application to be processed by a specific country according to the purpose of their travel.
This digital shift promises efficiency and convenience, making a significant departure from the traditional paperwork.
Physical Appearances at Consulates Will No Longer Be Necessary
In addition, under the new regulations, physical appearances at consulates will become largely unnecessary, except for first-time applicants, individuals with a new travel document, and those with expired biometric data.
This reduction in in-person requirements aims to simplify the process, making it more accessible and less burdensome for everyone.
Moreover, in line with the new rules, the visa sticker will be replaced with a more secure and sophisticated cryptographically signed barcode. As the Council explains, this upgrade aligns with modern technological advancements, and it ensures a higher level of security in visa documentation while lowering the possibility of counterfeiting the document.
The date of the application of the new rules will be decided once the work on the visa platform and the digital visa has been completed.