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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Schengen Visa: a new permit to enter Europe

Por Jade

Taking a tour of business, tourism, medical care or a stopover in Europe will require a new permit approved by the European Union (EU). There are 15 countries in Latin America that are on the list of this new requirement approved at the end of April by the European Commission and that will come into force from 2021, after the formal approval of the Parliament and the European Council.

It is called the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS), a permit that travelers must process electronically when making their travel plans to the so-called Schengen area. There are many countries that are part of the European Union (EU) whose citizens have free access to the Schengen area without the need for visas.

Citizens of these countries are authorized to travel to Schengen countries for work or travel reasons for a maximum period of 90 days. During these 90 days, these visitors are not authorized to work or study, but they can carry out tourist and business activities. Among the countries that will require this permit are the most popular European destinations, such as Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Greece, Denmark or Switzerland, among others. The United Kingdom is still part of the EU, but not the Schengen area. It has its own visa rules for foreign visitors.

Citizens of Latin American countries that do not require a visa to travel to the Schengen area - as those of Bolivia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Ecuador do - can travel freely between these countries. The entry into force of the ETIAS does not change free transit, but it will be a mandatory requirement to enter this space, according to the guidelines of this new program. In the case of Latin America, passport holders from 15 countries will have to manage the ETIAS on a mandatory basis. The countries in Latin America to which ETIAS applies are Argentina, El Salvador, Panama, Brazil, Guatemala, Paraguay, Chile, Honduras, Peru, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Venezuela.

They must complete a form that asks the applicant for their personal information, education, employment, countries to visit in the EU and if they have relatives there, as well as a security questionnaire. There will be a charge of 5 euros for those over 18 years, minors are exempt from payment. The process of requesting and obtaining a response will be a matter of "minutes", so that a person can obtain the travel permit quickly if their request is positive, indicate the guidelines of the program. If an additional review is required, the process will take from 96 hours to 2 weeks. "Before boarding, air and sea carriers will be required to verify that third-country nationals subject to an authorization are in possession of a valid travel authorization," the European Council said in a statement. Once approved, it will be valid for 3 years, but will be canceled if the applicant's passport expires, whatever happens first.

The European Commission approved this control for travelers due to the "problems surrounding terrorism and the migration crisis", according to the ETIAS system. "We must know who crosses our borders, in this way, we will know who travels to Europe, even before they arrive," said Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, when he proposed this mechanism. The aim is to "improve internal security, prevent illegal immigration, protect public health and reduce border delays by identifying people who may pose a risk in one of these areas before they reach the external borders," according to the European Commission. In case ETIAS is denied to an applicant, he or she may file an appeal. If there is no serious reason for rejection, the applicant can reapply.