The European Union Commission has urged the member states to resume visa operations abroad so that third-country citizens in need of a visa to travel to the Schengen Area can start filing applications.
The Commission has advised member states to enable visa operations after most Member States have halted every visa-related process part of pandemic-related measures.
The suggestion has been given in line with the Commission’s recommendation to the Member states to start reopening the external borders, gradually and partially, as of July 1.
“Travellers will need to be able to access visa services again, and the Member States should synchronise the resumption of visa operations with the lifting of travel restrictions. This is why today the Commission presents guidance for a phased and coordinated return of visa operations to normal,” a press release of the Commission notes regarding visa issuance.
It also points out that a harmonised approach is best achieved through consulates simultaneously resuming operations in each location and by fully implementing the EU visa rules, together with good communication towards the public.
The Commission has its suggestions when it comes to the possibility of the member states requiring additional documents related to health checks, i.e. COVID-19 tests, for visa application.
“If a Member State requires health checks, these should take place at the time of travel or shortly before, rather than when applying for a visa; and should apply to all travellers from a given location irrespective of their nationality or visa status,” the Commission recommends.
The EU Commission presented today a recommendation related to the entry ban for third-country citizens introduced on March 15 this year, amid the outbreak of the Coronavirus in Europe.
It suggests to the Member States to lift travel restrictions for countries selected together by the Member States, based on set objective criteria as health situation, the ability to apply containment measures during travel, and reciprocity considerations.
Based on these conditions, it also recommends that the nationals of the six Western Balkan countries – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia – should be the first to benefit from the abolishment of travel restrictions, as of July 1, given that their epidemiological situation is similar or better than that of the EU.