The Council of the European Union adopted amendments to the visa code regulation today which will improve conditions for legitimate travellers, as well as increase the tools available to respond to the challenges posed by illegal migration.
The new rules will provide faster and clearer procedures for legitimate travellers, in particular by:
allowing for applications to be lodged up to 6 months, and no later than 15 days, before the trip
providing for the possibility of the application form to be filled in and signed electronically
introducing a harmonised approach to the issuing of multiple entry visas to regular travellers with a positive visa history for a period which increases gradually from 1 to 5 years.
To ensure Member States can better cover the costs of visa processing without constituting a deterrent for visa applicants, the visa fee will be increased to 80 euros.
The regulation will also contribute to improving cooperation with third countries on readmission by introducing a new mechanism for using visa processing as leverage.
Under this mechanism, the Commission will regularly assess third countries' cooperation on readmission. Where a country is not cooperating, the Commission will propose that the Council adopt an implementing decision applying specific restrictive visa measures related to visa processing and, eventually, to the visa fee.
On the other hand, if a country is found to be cooperating on readmission, the Commission may propose that the Council adopt an implementing decision providing for either a reduction in the visa fee, a reduction in the time to decide on visa applications, or an increase in the period of validity of multiple entry visas.