EU Moves Forward with Digitalization of Schengen Visa Process
Brussels, Belgium – The European Council and the European Parliament have reached a provisional agreement on the digitalization of the Schengen Visa application process. This breakthrough, made on 13 June 2023, paves the way for eligible individuals to apply for a visa online, replacing the current system of visa stickers.
The initiative to digitize the Schengen Visa application process was introduced by the European Commission in April 2022. The COVID-19 pandemic, along with recent migration and security challenges, has underscored the need for digital procedures in visa operations.
The digitalization efforts aim to streamline the application and issuance process, reducing the need for in-person consular applications. Additionally, it seeks to enhance security within the Schengen Area by mitigating the risks of falsification and theft of visa stickers.
Under the new rules, a dedicated online platform will be launched, enabling eligible individuals to submit their Schengen Visa applications and pay the necessary processing fees electronically. The platform will then forward the applications to the respective immigration authorities, who will process them accordingly. Applicants will be notified of the outcome electronically, and visas will be issued in a digital format, specifically as a 2D barcode with cryptographic signatures.
It is important to note that the online application process will not be available for initial visa applications, applications based on new travel documents (such as renewed passports), or cases requiring the submission of biometric data. In instances where the biometric data provided in a previous application is no longer valid, applicants will still need to follow the traditional application procedures.
Before the digitalization rules can be fully implemented, they must be approved by EU Member States. Once the approval is secured, the European Council and the European Parliament will proceed with the implementation, marking a significant step forward in modernizing the Schengen Visa process.