A digital Schengen visa procedure?

It looks like we could be seeing a digital Schengen visa procedure soon. Let’s explore the changes and how this could work…

The Council’s mandate for a proposal to digitise the Schengen visa procedure has been agreed to by The EU member states’ ambassadors. This means that a digital Schengen visa procedure is coming soon.

Digital Schengen visa procedure proposal

The proposal comes on the heels of recent migration and security challenges. It’s also believed that the COVID-19 pandemic  slowed down visa operations considerably – creating a need for digital procedures. Luckily, technological advancements provide the opportunities to make this happen. Not only can the process be smoother for both national authorities as well as applicants, but new security features could drastically improves the overall experience.

Consequently, the Commission submitted on 27 April 2022 a legislative proposal aimed at digitising the visa procedure.

The objective of the proposal is to both; improve the security of the Schengen area and to make the visa application procedure as efficient as possible. These suggested new changes will allow applicants to look up the visa online. Also, a digital visa will replace the current visa sticker.

The new proposed rules suggest that visas be issued in a digital format in the form of a 2D barcode that is signed cryptographically. The hope is that counterfeit and stolen visa stickers will be drastically reduced.

Maria Malmer Stebergard, Swedish Minister for Migration, elaborates:   

“A digital Schengen visa will make it easier for legitimate travellers to apply and will at the same time help make the Schengen area safer. Online applications will reduce the number of trips to the consulate for travellers and make the process smoother for national administrations. At the same time, the digital visa will put an end to the risk of falsification and theft of the visa sticker. “

How will it work?

All applications for Schengen visas under the  proposed rules will be created on a new platform.  In-person appointments at the consulate will only be necessary for first-time applicants or to capture invalid biometric data.

The website will enable applicants to do the following:

  • capture all relevant data
  • upload electronic copies of their travel as well as supporting documentation
  • pay their visa fees

Additionally, the website will be able to direct applicants to the relevant national visa systems as well as notify them on the decisions regarding their visa application.

Based on todays agreement it seems a done deal and all that still needs to happen is for the Council presidency to start negotiations with the European Parliament to agree on the final wording.