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Sep 13, 2022
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Cancel and do not issue: visa restrictions are in effect

On Monday, September 12, a decision came into force, completely suspending the visa facilitation agreement between the European Union and Russia.

As a result of the decision taken by the EU leadership, the general rules of the visa code will now apply to all Russian citizens, according to SchengenVisaInfo.com.

In accordance with the newly adopted decision, which comes into force on September 12, 2022, the visa fee for Russian citizens is increased from 35 to 80 euros. In addition, the decision will entail the need to provide additional documentary evidence when Russians apply for a visa to the EU countries.

In addition to the above, Russian citizens will also face an increase in visa processing times and tougher rules for issuing multiple-entry visas.

The consulates of European states, in the light of the anti-Russian restrictions adopted, may cancel the priority of non-essential trips. The European institutions state that “Consulates should give lesser priority to applicants who do not have a substantial reason for travel, such as tourists, when scheduling visa appointments.”

It is also proposed to extend the processing time for visa applications: Consulates may take up to 45 days to decide on visa applications (vs. 15 days in normal cases) to allow for more thorough verification of applications submitted by Russians.

In addition, consulates have been instructed to request additional supporting documents beyond the standard list “to ensure a high level of screening, in particular in cases of possible threats to public order, public order and international relations.”

In addition, enhanced control is being introduced over visa applications and valid visas.

Also on the website of the European Commission it is stated: “Given the current security situation, the consulates of the Member States should take special care when checking whether Russian citizens applying for short-stay visas can be considered as a threat to public order, internal security or international relations of any of the states- members. In this case, the visa should be refused, always on the basis of an individual assessment. Member States must also refuse to issue a visa in case of doubt as to the applicant’s intention to leave the EU territory upon expiry of the visa.

Similarly, Member States should be strict about reviewing valid short-stay visas already issued to Russian citizens. If it becomes apparent that the conditions for the issuance of a visa are no longer met, for example because the visa holder is now considered to be a security risk, Member States must cancel the existing visa.”

There is another important point, which is pointed out on the website of the European Commission: “Member States should refrain from issuing multiple visas with a long validity period, since Russian citizens may not meet the conditions for entry into the EU in the long term, given economic instability, restrictive measures and political events in Russia. In such cases, Member States should consider issuing single-entry visas or visas with shorter validity.

Under EU visa rules, a Member State may also request consultations before another Member State issues visas to Russian citizens based on a threat to public order, internal security or international relations. The Member State consulted may object to the issuance of a Schengen visa to a Russian citizen on an individual basis. If granted, the visa will be limited to the territory of the Member State that issued it and will not grant access to the entire Schengen area.”

Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said: “Being a tourist in the EU is not a fundamental right. As per today’s recommendations, Member States are advised to carefully and scrupulously screen visa applications from Russian citizens. Visas should be refused if consulates identify security risks. Consulates should also deprioritize applicants traveling to the EU for non-essential reasons. The EU will remain open to those in need of protection, such as journalists, dissidents, human rights activists and people traveling for family reasons.”

Commenting on the decision, Czech Interior Minister Vit Rakusan said that this is “another proof of the EU’s unwavering commitment to Ukraine and its people.”

The adoption by the Council of the European Union of this decision followed a proposal made by the EU Commission. Earlier last week, the EU Commission proposed a complete suspension of the Visa Facilitation Agreement with Russia as part of the sanctions imposed on the latter over the conflict in Ukraine.

While the EU has only decided to suspend the visa facilitation agreement with Russia, four European countries bordering Russia – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland – have agreed to stop issuing Schengen visas to Russian citizens from 19 September. In addition, they also agreed to ban Russians from entering the country.

The decision of the Baltic States and Poland was announced in a joint statement. The foreign ministers of the four countries said the measures would be temporary. In addition, they indicated that the measures were taken on the general grounds of protecting internal security and public order.

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