EU parliament formally adopts digital visas
Europe has made one of the final steps towards adopting digital visas for the Schengen area.
On Wednesday, the European Parliament voted to support the law on digitalization of visas, which will enable applications for Schengen visas through a single online platform. The Visa Information System (VIS) platform will require the collection of fingerprint and face biometrics for first-time applicants.
The finalization of the legislation is expected on November 12, according to sources quoted by Euractiv. Voluntary use of the application system is expected to be available from 2025, while mandatory use will likely be implemented in 2031 or 2032, the sources said.
The new, fully digital visa system is aimed at third-country nationals and residents of non-Schengen EU member states such as Bulgaria and Romania. The unified online platform will be managed by the European Union Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (EU-LISA).
The new cryptographically signed visas will also be safer and more difficult to forge, according to the EU Parliament.
”Europe is currently lagging behind our peers in digital visa procedures,” says Matjaž Nemec, EU Parliament rapporteur in charge of the proposal. “With this reform, we will catch up, and the whole process will become cheaper and easier for applicants. It will also make it harder to abuse the system, making the process safer.”
EU institutions reached a deal on the regulation in June. The new system will replace the current analog visa stickers with digital ones. Applicants will still be able to submit paper applications in case of issues accessing the online platform.