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European Commission Proposes Visa-free Travel to the EU for Qatar and Kuwait Nationals

Photo ©AP Images/European Union-EP - Photo source: European Parliament

Photo ©AP Images/European Union-EP – Photo source: European Parliament

The European Commission recently proposed to lift visa requirements for nationals of Qatar and Kuwait.

Under this proposal, once agreed, Qatar and Kuwait nationals holding biometric passports would no longer need a visa when travelling to the EU for short stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period for business, tourism or family purposes.

The proposal comes after an assessment by the Commission of the criteria set in the EU rules on visa requirements.

The Commission concluded that Qatar and Kuwait present low irregular migration risks and are increasing cooperation on security issues with the EU. They issue biometric passports, which is a pre-condition for visa-free travel to the EU. Qatar and Kuwait are also important economic partners for the Union, in particular in the area of energy.

According to the Commission, the lifting of visa requirements for nationals of Qatar and Kuwait will contribute to strengthening relations with Gulf countries.

Photo source: Qatar Airways

It is now for the European Parliament and the Council to examine the proposal and decide whether to grant visa-free travel to the EU to nationals of Qatar and Kuwait. If the proposal is adopted by the European Parliament and the Council, the EU will negotiate a visa waiver agreement with Qatar and Kuwait, respectively, to ensure full visa reciprocity for EU citizens.

Visa-free travel to the EU for nationals of Qatar and Kuwait will start applying once the visa waiver agreement enters into force.

The EU currently has visa-free regimes in place with more than 60 countries and territories. EU law lists the non-EU countries whose nationals need visas to travel to the EU and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement. Under the visa-free regime, eligible non-EU nationals can enter the Schengen area for 90 days, within any 180-day period, without a visa. Visa-exempt travellers visiting the Schengen area will be subject to the EU Entry/Exit System (EES) as of second half of 2022 and to the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) as of May 2023.

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