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EU to Make it Difficult, More Expensive for Russians to Get Travel Visas

Photo source: European Commission

Photo source: European Commission

The European Commission this week proposed to fully suspend the EU’s visa facilitation agreement with Russia.

The suspension comes in response to increased risks and threats to the European Union’s security interests and the national security of the Member States as result of Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine.

“The EU’s visa policy is a mark of trust – a trust that Russia has completely undermined with its unprovoked and unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine,” Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said.

Full suspension of the visa facilitation agreement with Russia means that Russian citizens will no longer enjoy privileged access to the EU and face a lengthier, more expensive and more difficult visa application process.

Photo source: European Commission

Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas. Photo source: European Commission

“As long as Russia’s military aggression towards an EU candidate country lasts, Russian citizens cannot enjoy travel facilitations to Europe,” Schinas said, adding that the EU once again is showing its unwavering unity in its response to Russia’s military aggression.

In force since June 2007, the EU-Russia visa facilitation agreement eases the issuance of visas to citizens of the Union and the Russian Federation for intended stays of no more than 90 days in any 180-day period. As of 1 September 2022, around 963,000 Russians held valid visas to the Schengen area.

Ending privileged access to the EU for Russian citizens

Photo source: European Commission

Photo source: European Commission

The proposal to suspend the visa facilitation agreement will put an end to all facilitations for Russian citizens applying for a short-stay visa to the Schengen area. The general rules of the Visa Code will apply instead.

In practice, Russian applicants will face:

A higher visa fee: The visa fee will increase from 35 euros to 80 euros for all applicants.
Increased processing time: The standard deadline for consulates to take a decision on visa applications will increase from 10 to 15 days. This period may be extended up to a maximum of 45 days in individual cases, when further scrutiny of the application is needed.
More restrictive rules on multiple-entry visas: Applicants will no longer have easy access to visas valid for multiple entries to the Schengen area.
A longer list of supporting documents: Applicants will have to submit the full list of documentary evidence when applying for a visa. They will no longer benefit from the simplified list included in the Visa Facilitation Agreement.

Member States will have wide discretion in processing short-stay visa applications from Russian citizens, and will be able to ensure greater scrutiny in respect of Russian nationals travelling to the EU.

The EU will remain open to certain categories of Russian visa applicants travelling for essential purposes, including notably family members of EU citizens, journalists, dissidents and civil society representatives.

Non-recognition of Russian passports issued in occupied regions of Ukraine

Russia passport

The Commission also proposed a common EU approach for the non-recognition of Russian passports issued in occupied foreign regions.

According to the Commission, Russia currently extends the practice of issuing ordinary Russian passports to more non-government-controlled areas of Ukraine, in particular the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.

“Member States should not recognise Russian passports issued in occupied areas of Ukraine as valid documents for the purpose of issuing a visa and crossing the EU’s external borders,” the Commission said.

The Commission’s proposals follow the political agreement reached by Foreign Affairs Ministers at their informal meeting of 31 August on a common and coordinated way forward when it comes to visa issuance for Russian citizens.

It is now for the European Council to examine and adopt the Commission’s proposal to suspend the visa facilitation agreement.

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  1. Valerio Reply

    Bravo ray and stupidity of EU is going on with yesterday’s (04 October) article!

  2. Ray Luxford Reply

    Why are the Russian people people ostracized for the madness of slo few? We. do not jail families of a murderer , for the actions of one person!

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