EU Implements Stricter Guidelines for Suspending Visa-Free Travel from Non-EU Nations

EU Implements Stricter Guidelines for Suspending Visa-Free Travel from Non-EU Nations

The EU has defined three additional grounds on which it can ban visa-free travel for people of non-EU countries.

On 13 March, EU member states' ambassadors endorsed a new provision empowering the EU to suspend visa-free travel privileges for countries whose citizens are exempt from visa requirements when visiting the Schengen area.

This regulation will assist the EU in dealing with circumstances in which visa-free travel is abused or is detrimental to EU interests.

New Grounds To Suspend Visa-Free Regime

Under the updated framework, the EU will be given the following new grounds to suspend the visa-free regime:

  • When a country outside the EU doesn't follow the same visa rules as the EU, this leads to more people coming to the EU, especially because the country is close to the EU geographically.
  • The operation of an investor citizenship scheme, whereby citizenship is granted without any genuine link to the third country concerned, in exchange for pre-determined payments or investments.
  • Hybrid threats and deficiencies in document security legislation or procedures

EU member states maintain the authority to suspend visa-free travel from specific countries in the case of a significant deterioration in bilateral relations, particularly on concerns of human rights and basic freedoms. In particular, the duration of the temporary suspension of visa exemption has been extended from 9 to 12 months, with the option of an additional 24 months, up from the previous 18-month extension period.

Throughout the suspension period, the European Commission will engage in dialogue with the concerned third country to address the underlying circumstances prompting the suspension. Should no satisfactory resolution be achieved, the EU reserves the right to permanently revoke the visa-free travel regime.

The agreement on a common position will allow the EU Council to negotiate with the European Parliament to reach an agreement on a final legal document.

Previously Grounds for Cancelling Visa-Free Travel

The previously established grounds, which are listed below, will remain in place:

  • When a substantial increase in the number of nationals of a visa-free country who are refused entry or found overstaying,
  • Where there’s an increase in the number of unfounded asylum applications, with a low recognition rate from the nationals of such a country,
  • Non-cooperation with the EU on readmission of people that have been asked to leave the EU territory,
  • Failure to continue meeting the visa liberalisation benchmarks.

Countries With Visa-Free Access to the Schengen Zone

Visa facilitation agreements exist between the EU and some non-EU countries. 

Under this simplified visa regime, non-EU citizens with a biometric passport enjoy facilitated procedures for entering the Schengen area for short stays.

Citizens of the following countries do not need a visa to enter the Schengen area for short stays:

AlbaniaAndorraAntigua and Barbuda
BarbadosBosnia and HerzegovinaBrazil
ColombiaCook IslandsCosta Rica
DominicaEl SalvadorGeorgia
Hong KongIsraelJapan
MalaysiaMarshall IslandsMauritius
MonacoMontenegroNew Zealand
NicaraguaNiueNorth Macedonia
PeruSaint Kitts and NevisSaint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan Marino
Solomon IslandsSouth KoreaTaiwan
Timor-LesteTongaTrinidad and Tobago
Vatican CityVenezuela

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