No more visa requirements for Qataris and Kuwaiti, digitization of visa applications for a hundred other countries | Abroad

The European Commission on Wednesday proposed to abolish visa requirements for Qatari and Kuwait nationals. In addition, she also presented plans to digitize the visa application for the nationals of a hundred countries who need a visa to travel to the European Union.

If the Member States and the European Parliament agree, Qataris and Kuwaiti with a biometric passport will no longer need to apply for a visa if they want to travel to the EU for a stay of up to 90 days.

The Commission is proposing the exemption because both countries pose a low risk of illegal migration and have good security cooperation with the EU. Qatar and Kuwait are also important economic partners, especially in energy.

The High Representative of European Foreign Policy Josep Borrell © AP

Josep Borrell, the high representative of European foreign policy, said the exemption for Qatar and Kuwait is “a first step” that should ultimately lead to visa-free travel for citizens of the Arab Gulf countries.

Of those six countries, only the United Arab Emirates currently enjoy an exemption. In total, nationals of more than 60 countries and jurisdictions around the world can travel to the EU visa-free.

Digitization in the coming years to put an end to the paper mill

For the nationals of about a hundred other countries, applying for a visa should become easier in the coming years.

The Commission proposes that travelers can apply for a visa and pay the associated costs on one common online platform, regardless of the Schengen country they wish to visit. A visit to a consulate would only be required for travelers whose biometric data is not yet available.

Applying for a visa is currently still a cumbersome and largely paper-based procedure. For example, the applicants often have to travel twice to the relevant department, to submit the application and then to collect a passport with visa.

Some Member States have already taken steps to make the application process online, but not all countries are equally advanced and only a few offer the option to pay online.

European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson

European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson © AFP

“Half of the travelers who come to the EU with a Schengen visa find the visa application procedure cumbersome. A third has to travel a great distance to apply for a visa. It is high time the EU provided a fast, secure and web-based application platform,” said European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson.

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