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[Updated] EU: Digitization of the Schengen Visa 

This article was originally published on 2 May 2022 and was updated on 29 March 2023 to reflect the latest information.  

29 March 2023 Update: The ambassadors of the European Union (EU) member states reviewed the EU Council’s proposal to digitize Schengen visa procedures. Through the proposal, eligible applicants will be permitted to apply for a Schengen visa online. The online visa will replace the current visa sticker that is affixed to a traveler’s passport.   

The proposal will also create a new application platform where all Schengen visa applications can be submitted and forwarded to the relevant national visa systems of each member state. On this platform, visa applicants will be able to introduce all relevant data, upload electronic copies of their travel and supporting documents and pay any visa fees.  

In-person appearance at the consulate will only be necessary for first-time applicants, persons whose biometric data are no longer valid and those with a new travel document. 

According to the Council, these procedures aim to improve the efficiency and security of the Schengen area.  

In the coming months, the Council and ambassadors will finalize the wording and implementation steps of the proposal.  


Key Points 

  • The European Commission proposed the digitization of the Schengen visa 
  • Under this system, a new platform would be introduced for collecting documents and payments for the visa

Overview 

The European Commission proposed that the Schengen visa application process be digitized for related member states. The Schengen Area is a free-travel zone with 26 total participating European member states. Visa-waivered nationals of the Schengen States are permitted to travel throughout the Schengen Area for a maximum period of 90 days within any 180-day period. For a complete list of the Schengen States, check here

This change will allow eligible applicants to obtain a digital copy of the visa, rather than having to obtain a physical visa sticker. In addition, an online visa application platform would be created to facilitate the process. The following changes are currently anticipated to take place under the new system:

  • Visa applicants will be able to pay online through the platform;
  • The Platform will be used to automatically determine which Schengen country will be responsible for examining the application;
  • Up-to-date information on Schengen short-stay visas and information on the requirements and procedures for the application;
  • Only first-time applicants or applicants with expired biometric data will be required to appear in person at a consulate for their biometric identifiers to be collected.

What are the Changes? 

On 27 April 2022, the European Commission proposed the digitization of the Schengen visa process. The Commission stated that this change would help to reduce costs associated with the Schengen visa application process and would improve the security of the Schengen Area. 

Looking Ahead 

The Commission will need to present the proposal to the European Parliament and Council before it can officially be put into force. From the date of approval, the EU member states will have five years to transition the platform into use. The platform is expected to become operational in 2026. With the introduction of this online portal, travelers may want to expect closer tracking of days used for travel in the Schengen area. Continue to check the European Commission’s website and Envoy’s website for the latest updates and information. 


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Content in this publication is for informational purposes only and not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult an attorney at one of the two U.S. Law Firms working with the Envoy Platform or another qualified professional. On non-U.S. immigration issues, consult an Envoy global immigration service provider or another qualified representative.