• Commission Assesses Suspension of Visa Waiver Policy for Nationals of Brunei, Canada and United States
  • May 22, 2016
  • Law Firm: Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen Loewy LLP - New York Office
  • The European Commission adopted a policy paper urging the European Parliament and the European Council to assess the suspension of the 90-day-in-a-180-day period visa waiver policy for nationals from Brunei, Canada and the United States, due to the fact that these countries do not allow reciprocal visa-free travel by nationals of some EU member states. The Commission has asked the European Parliament and Council to issue a decision by July 12, 2016, which would mean that visa requirements for nationals from Brunei, Canada and the United States could be implemented within 90 days of that date. At this stage, this is a recommendation only and there are no immediate changes to visa requirements.

    Background

    Under rules adopted by the European Parliament and European Council in 2013, if a country that has been granted a visa waiver in the European Union does not reciprocally waive visa requirements to nationals of all EU member states within 24 months of a notification by the Commission, the Commission must propose a temporary suspension of the visa waiver for nationals of the third countries for a twelve-month period.

    The 24-month deadline is today for Brunei, Canada and the United States due to the fact that these countries still apply the following visa requirements:
    • Croatian nationals require a visa to travel to Brunei;
    • Bulgarian and Romanian nationals require a visa to travel to Canada; and
    • Bulgarian, Croatian, Cypriot, Polish and Romanian nationals require a visa to travel to the United States.
    Commission’s Assessment

    The EU rules require the Commission to consider the political, economic and administrative consequences of the suspension of the visa waiver. Today’s assessment states that it is highly unlikely that EU member states would be able to process the increased number of visa applications as required (within 90 days following the implementation of the visa requirements) and that such visa requirements could result in a decrease in the number of travelers from Brunei, Canada and the United States. The suspension would also likely entail significant economic consequences, notably for the aviation industry, and would have a substantial impact on the European Union’s external relations.

    What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals

    Depending on the Commission’s decision regarding the visa waiver policy, employers of nationals from Brunei, Canada and the United States planning short stays in the European Union should be aware of the possibility of the necessity for a Schengen Visa C or other potential changes to visa policy, and should contact their immigration professional to discuss the implications of such a ruling.

    Since Ireland and the United Kingdom are not bound by the EU visa waiver program, nationals from Brunei, Canada and the United States planning trips to those countries should not be directly affected. If any restrictions are imposed, they would also apply to the European Free Trade Association countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland).