Coordinated resumption of visa processing
10 August, 2020duguech
The coordinated resumption of visa processing is a challenge for the European Union. The procedure has been directly affected by the measures taken to contain the spread of Covid-19, because many Member States suspended the visa application for non-essential travel, in many cases for an indefinite period of time.
However, as mobility restrictions at EU borders are relaxed, international travel will resume and travelers will be able to carry out visa processing in third countries again.
In order for the process of coordinated resumption of visa processing to have better results, the European Commission has drawn up a series of guidelines to implement the procedures, indicating three aspects as priorities:
- Preparation and practice of a coordinated resumption of procedures
- Processing of applications
- Local cooperation in the Schengen zone
During world confinement, travel restrictions were applied with the exception of some “essential travelers”. Under this proviso, the Commission invited the EU countries to maintain “minimum services” for the processing of visa applications and, although there have been guarantees from the Member States, local containment measures have limited continuity of services.
In May 2020, Member States issued less than 2% of the number of visas they normally issue as a monthly average. European Comission
For the European Commission it is of vital importance to resume operations in a coordinated manner. In its recent Communication, it indicates that at the local level it is necessary to continue adjusting procedures and reinforcing practices in relation to hygiene protocols and new working methods.
In informal consultations carried out by the Commission in May with visa experts from Member States, representatives agreed that the resumption of visa processing should take place simultaneously as restrictions on EU borders are lifted. The following recommendations emerged from the consultations:
Preparation and practice of a coordinated resumption of procedures
The Commission encourages Member States to immediately prepare access protocols for visa applicants with:
- Strict hygiene measures.
- Obligation of prior appointment.
- Promotion of the deposit of documents or presentation of forms and supporting documents online.
- Allow payment of fees online.
- In order to significantly reduce the need for physical presence, strictly adhere to the rule that applicants’ fingerprints only need to be taken once every 59 months.
Processing of applications
The Commission advocates that the application of a common visa policy remains uniform. Otherwise, it could have negative consequences on the territorial validity, or the duration of the validity of a visa. This would make it difficult for visa holders to adjust to sudden travel restrictions.
The systematic limitation of the territorial validity of visas could harm Member States that do not have air traffic distribution centers in their territory and frequent travelers. European Comission
Once restrictions on non-essential travel to the European Union are lifted, Member States must observe the following principles when resuming procedures:
- Application of the Visa Code.
- Timely information to the public.
- Sustain representation agreements for visa applicants.
- Coordination and exchange of information at the local level.
Schengen Local Cooperation
The Commission points out the responsibility of the Member States and the Delegations of the European Union for the proper functioning of a Local Schengen Cooperation. The central authorities of each country must give consulates the flexibility to adapt to the coordinated resumption of visa procedures.
The Commission concludes that a second strict confinement could not be ruled out due to Covid-19, and warns that any health emergency that requires mobility restrictions must maintain minimum services in the processing of visa applications.Furthermore, it points out the particularity of key workers in the transport sector as a contingency measure to avoid the repetition of the administrative traffic jams that have affected many essential travelers during the period of confinement.
If you have any doubts regarding the coordinated resumption of visa application processing, do not hesitate to contact Duguech & Dip, we are at your disposal.
This information does not constitute under any circumstances legal advice, serving only for informational purposes. In case you need professional services in Global Immigration and Mobility, please contact us.
* It should be taken into account that the regulations of any of the countries analyzed, as well as the established procedures, may change at any time and without prior notice.
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