Earlier this month, the EU introduced new rules on short stay visit or ‘Schengen’ visas. The changes apply to travellers from all countries which need visas to travel to the EU. This does not include British citizens but will apply to many non-EEA nationals living in the UK who wish to visit any of the 26 countries which make up the Schengen Area. Schengen visas allow an applicant to visit the Schengen Area for up to 90 days in any 180 day period.
So what are the main changes?
The main change is the increase in fees. The fee has increased from €60 to €80. However, the increase does not apply to the lower Visa Facilitation Agreements visa fee of €35. Applicants under six years old are still free but the visa fee for applicants between the ages of six and twelve has increased to €40.
There have also been a number of positive changes introduced:
- Visa applications can now be submitted up to six months before the intended travel date (instead of three months previously). The maximum processing time for the visa remains 15 days (up to 45 days if the application requires further assessment). This will enable applicants to better plan their trips.
- Frequent travellers will be able to get a one, two or five year multiple entry visa more easily, depending on their EU travel and compliance history.
- The application process, in most cases, will be able to be completed and signed electronically. Applications in person will only be needed if the applicant is required to submit their fingerprints.
Otherwise, the requirements have not changed. Schengen visa applicants must ensure that they have:
- A passport issued in the last ten years and valid for at least three months after the end of the intended period of stay;
- Evidence of travel medical insurance to cover the countries and period of the stay;
- Evidence in relation to the purpose of the stay, how the applicant will be able to support themselves during the stay and their accommodation for the duration of the stay.
If any of these changes affect you, and you’d like to talk to someone about it, then please do get in touch with our Immigration department.