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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Simplifying visa rules

To facilitate the lives of tourists visiting the EU and to stimulate the European economy, the European Commission proposed important changes to the Schengen Area visa rules in April 2014.

The main elements of the package are

  • Speeding up the visa process. Reducing the deadline for processing and taking a decision on a visa application from 15 to 10 days.
  • Boosting consular cooperation. If the Schengen country responsible for processing the visa application is neither present nor represented in a particular non-EU country, the applicant is entitled to apply at any of the other consulates present ('mandatory representation').
  • Repeated visits will be much easier with the introduction of mandatory criteria for obtaining a multiple entry visa (MEV) valid for 3/5 years.
  • The establishment of a Touring Visa. This new type of Visa will allow non-EU nationals entering the Schengen area to travel within this zone for up to one year (without staying in one country for more than 90 days in any 180-day period). This could benefit performance artists, as well as tourists, researchers, and students who want to spend more time in Europe.

The package included

Press release: More flexible visa rules to boost growth and job creation

Both legislative proposals are being examined by the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament. They can only enter into force once approved by them both.

The Visa Code only concerns countries applying the common Schengen visa policy (Bulgaria, Croatia, Ireland, Cyprus and Romania do not take part in this visa policy currently).