In a groundbreaking move, the Schengen visa application process is set to experience a digital transformation that replaces the traditional visa sticker with a digital one, as reported by SchengenVisaInfo.com. The primary aim of this development is to increase efficiency and security within the Schengen Area.
Maria Malmer Stenergard, the Swedish Minister for Migration, applauded the digitalisation initiative, stating that the digital visa would simplify the process for travellers, streamline administrative procedures, and boost security in the Schengen region by reducing the risk of visa sticker theft and forgery.
However, this agreement is awaiting approval from EU Member States before implementation can commence. Once approved, a dedicated Schengen visa application platform will be established. This platform will serve as a single destination for most Schengen visa applications, directing applicants to the respective visa systems.
The platform will offer a seamless interface for applicants to input pertinent information, submit electronic versions of required documents, and pay the visa fee. It will also notify applicants about the status of their visa applications.
Physical appearances at consulates will be limited to first-time applicants, those with new travel documents, and individuals with expired biometric data. Furthermore, the platform will automatically assign the application to a Member State based on the length of stay when a person plans to visit multiple Schengen countries. However, applicants will retain the option to request processing by a specific Member State according to their travel purpose.
Matjaž Nemec, rapporteur, hailed the digitalisation initiative, asserting, “With the new fully digitalised system and digital visas, applicants will benefit from easier, cheaper and faster EU visa procedures.”
The newly proposed rules dictate that digital Schengen visas will be issued as cryptographically signed 2D barcodes. This innovative approach is aimed at mitigating risks linked with counterfeit and stolen visa stickers, thereby bolstering the robustness of the visa system.