The Russian touristic federation has recently recommended Hungary as a promising destination to get a Schengen visa for Russian passport holders, enabling them to travel to the rest of Europe while some countries aren’t issuing travel documents for them at all, in response to the military aggression on Ukraine that started in 2022.
However, Schengen Statistics reveal that the proportion of rejected visa applications filed by Russian citizens isn’t the lowest in Hungary but rather in countries like Spain and Finland, always considering higher numbers of applications.
While Hungary approved 90.9 per cent of 27,595 applications filed by Russian nationals, Spain had a recognition rate of 92.5 per cent. More specifically, Spanish consulates approved 154,450 out of 166,893 Schengen visa applications to Russian passport holders in 2022.
Similarly, Finland approved 93.4 per cent of applications filed by Russians, representing 105,323 applications out of a total of 112,737. Consequently, the rejection rates from Spanish and Finnish consulates are higher than other countries – 8,333 and 4,722, respectively, corresponding with the higher number of applications filed by Russians.
By categorising the countries that had the highest recognition rates, thus, denied the least applications filed by Russian nationals, it is evident that Poland leads the list with a recognition rate of 98.4 per cent and only 25 rejected visa applications. However, the application rates to this country are lower than in other countries – 2,208 compared to over 112,000 and 166,000 filed to Finnish and Spanish consulates.
Other countries with higher recognition rates in terms of approved visa applications include Lithuania, with a recognition rate of 96.1 per cent, followed by the Netherlands (94 per cent) and Latvia (93.3 per cent). The recognition rate of Hungarian authorities for Russian visa applicants would rank the country eighth easiest country to issue visas and third largest compared to countries that received a higher number of applicants, such as Spain and Finland.
The European countries have imposed sanctions against Russia in solidarity with Ukraine and in efforts to stop military aggression. As a result, Russian passport holders can count on the fingers of one hand European places they can freely go as they did prior to sanctions being implemented.
Last month, the Foreign Ministry of Finland announced it would no longer accept visa and resident permit applications filed by Russian nationals in Saint Petersburg, with the measure entering into force on August 1, 2023
“Visa and residence permit applications to Finland will not be accepted at the visa centre VFS (Visa Facilitation Services Global) office in St. Petersburg from August 1, 2023,” the statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland reads.
On the other hand, Spain has become a leading destination for Russian nationals as over half a million Schengen visa applications were filed at the Spanish authorities in Russia in 2019, out of a total of 4.1 million applications filed by Russians in the same year.