EU Introduces New Visa Waiver Program, ETIAS

With the launch of the ETIAS system, citizens from 60 countries can apply for their travel authorization throughout Europe. In the past, citizens in these 60 states could travel without a visa to the Schengen Zone. However, once the new system is in place, an ETIAS application will be mandatory. Citizens from other states excluded from the list will require a visa application.

ETIAS Scheduled Launch

The EU Commission announced that the ETIAS regulations that make the program interoperable with pertinent EU data systems became effective on 3rd August. This confirmation is a crucial step in work in progress to ensure ETIAS becomes effective next year.

There were a few concerns regarding the delayed ETIAS launch due to the pandemic. Fortunately, things appear to be on target, with the end of next year set for ETIAS completion. Find out more information about ETIAS on etias.org.

Why Does the EU Insist on ETIAS Application?

The ETIAS system launch is expected to boost security in the European Union. This system is projected to track better the movement of travelers visiting the region. Citizens from states that do not presently need visa approvals will require ETIAS to get in the Schengen Area.

For an ETIAS application, the traveler has to complete an application form online. They will be required to fill in personal details, health status, and whether they have any criminal record. After submitting their application, they need to pay a fee. The application is then checked against several EU data systems to verify the submitted details. This process entails screening against all relevant databases in the EU that have critical data.

In the screening process, the system will flag any risks that could threaten the region. That way, it is easy to identify a high-risk applicant and reject their application. Under certain circumstances, an ETIAS application may be denied. For instance, if the applicant has a medical condition that may risk the EU population or a serious criminal past on file.

If approved, the ETIAS is linked to the biometric passport. The EU border agents can confirm whether a traveler has an ETIAS on their biometric passport. Visitors from states requiring a visa will still need a visa. Notwithstanding, the ETIAS will facilitate better tracking of travelers from the 60 ETIAS countries that are visa-exempt.

The ETIAS system seeks to boost EU security while simplifying the entry process for low-risk travelers to Europe for corporate or tourism reasons. With a Schengen visa, you can only visit the EU country approved in your visa application. After the ETIAS launch, travelers can go anywhere in the EU once approved for travel. An ETIAS can also be used several times, provided the traveler’s passport and the approval are valid.

Endnote

The Schengen Area has 26 states, although some do not belong to the European Union. This region was created to enable unrestricted movement of persons across the state borders. Some of the 26 countries in this area include Poland, Norway, Netherlands, Iceland, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, and Greece. Others include Switzerland, Sweden, Portugal, Austria, Finland, Spain, Greece, Belgium, and Slovakia.

 

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