The European Union has modified the rules regarding the suspension of short-stay visa waiver agreements to allow quicker application of penalties when certain factors such as increased security concerns or public policy risk are involved. The new rules will be effective 20 days after they are published in the EU Official Journal.
The short-stay visa waiver suspension rules were first introduced into EU visa policy in 2013. As the number of visa waiver agreements with the European Union has increased, the EU has also sought to increase the protection mechanisms available in cases where the visa policy is abused or leads to security risks in the European Union.
New Rule Details
The new rules extend the grounds which can lead to a suspension of a visa waiver program to the following scenarios:
- If a country increasingly refuses to admit its own or transiting nationals who are out of status in the European Union;
- If there is an increase in unfounded asylum applications from a specific country; or
- If the entry of visa-exempt or transiting nationals is deemed to pose a risk or threat to the security of the European Union.
According to the new rules, a suspension mechanism can be triggered by the European Commission on its own initiative or due to a notification by one or several EU Member States.
If a visa agreement is suspended, the suspension is temporary and may target only certain categories of foreign nationals. Such a suspension, however, can also lead to removal of the visa exemption altogether.
New Monitoring Rules
The amendments also introduce a new monitoring system to ensure the countries in question continue to comply with the visa waiver-related requirements imposed by the European Union.
To conduct monitoring, during the first seven years after the entry into force of a new visa waiver agreement, the European Commission will submit reports to the European Parliament and the Council on the status of the country’s compliance with visa waiver rules.
What This Means for Foreign Nationals
These new rules could have consequences for visa-exempt foreign nationals if the suspension mechanism is applied for their country of origin.