About four years from now, Indian passport holders will be able to obtain online a Schengen visa to visit any of the 26 Schengen Area member countries, including here France, Germany, and Italy, as the European Union’s Commission is working to digitalise the procedures for obtaining a Schengen visa.
Revealing its plans, the Commission has announced that by 2026, it will launch a platform that will enable nationals of third countries under the Schengen visa-free regime, Indians included, to apply fully only including by paying the visa fee online and also submitting the documents online.
Commenting on the initiative, the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, said that half of those coming to Europe with a Schengen visa claim the visa application is burdensome, whereas over 30 per cent have to travel long distances in order to apply for such a visa.
“It is high time that the EU provides a quick, safe, and web-based EU visa application platform for the citizens of the 102 third countries that require short-term visas to travel to the EU,” the Commissioner said.
The Commission has also asserted that the current process for obtaining a Schengen visa is lengthy and heavily paper-based, and the applicants have to travel to submit and collect their passport with a visa afterwards, which can be quite costly and tiresome.
Indian nationals are also subject to the same procedures and often have to travel long distances in order to submit an application for a Schengen visa, which is not always approved.
Statistics by SchegnenVisaInfo.com reveal that pre-pandemic, in 2019 alone, Indian nationals filed 1,141,705 Schengen visa applications, which is 6.7 per cent of the total number of visa applications lodges throughout the same year. At the same time, India was the third top country with the highest number of Schengen visa applications filed in its territory, just behind Russia (4,133,100) and China (2,971,032).
Once the platform for online visa applications goes fully into effect, Indian passport holders will be able to complete the application form on this platform and upload their scanned passport and other required documents. They will have to go over at the embassy facilities to submit their biometrics – photography and fingerprints – however, they will have to do that only once for 59 months.
The visa will no longer be granted in the form of a sticker either, but rather “in the form of a 2D barcode, cryptographically signed by the Country Signing Certificate Authority (CSCA) of the issuing Member State.”
The platform is, in particular good news for those who need a visa to transit the Czech Republic, Germany, France, and Spain on their way to a non-Schengen country like the United Kingdom.