The European Union (EU) is moving ahead with the plan to introduce a digital Schengen visa, which will save travellers time and will enhance security.
According to a recent announcement from the European Council, the ambassadors of European Union member states accepted the council’s negotiating mandate for a plan to digitise the visa application process.
The proposal introduces the possibility of applying for a visa online, which replaces the current visa sticker.
With the introduction of online applications, travellers will make fewer trips to the consulate and national governments will experience a smoother application procedure. The possibility of visa sticker theft and forgery will also be eliminated with the digital visa.
“The proposed new rules will create a visa application platform,” said Swedish Minister for Migration Maria Malmer Stenergard.
All Schengen visa applications will be submitted via a single platform (website), which will then route them to the appropriate national visa systems.
“On this platform, visa applicants will be able to introduce all relevant data, upload electronic copies of their travel and supporting documents, and pay their visa fees. They will also be notified of the decisions concerning their visa,” she said.
First-time applicants, those whose biometric data are no longer valid, and those with new travel documents will be required to present in person at the consulate.
According to the new guidelines that are being considered, visas will be provided in digital form as a 2D barcode that is cryptographically authenticated, lowering the security risks associated with fake and stolen visa stickers.
To expedite the processing of travel entrance permits and enhance security, the European Parliament’s members (MEP) accepted a plan to digitalize the visa application process in the Schengen region in February.
Out of 59 MEP, the proposal had the support of 34 MEPs, other five opposed, and 20 MEPs abstained. The plan aims to cut down on the expenses and “efforts” involved in applying for a visa.