Following months of deliberation, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have voted on a law to digitalise Schengen visas to improve their security and accessibility.
On October 18, the Parliamentary vote returned 573 votes in favour, 36 against and 16 abstentions, reports schengenvisainfo.com.
In their proposal for digitalisation, the MEPs highlighted how it would enhance accessibility, regardless of language skills, disability or poor Internet connectivity.
The members noted that, by digitalising the application process, the authorities would meet goals to reduce the effort and cost required to file and process an application. Furthermore, digitalisation would ensure co-ordinated practices throughout the EU while simultaneously strengthening the document’s security.
The new law will allow Schengen visa applications to be processed on a single platform. On this website, applicants will be able to enter the required data, upload copies of travel documents and pay the visa fee remotely.
The website will also provide applicants with notifications about which Schengen member states will receive their application in the case of multinational trips, and the status of their application.
The new signed Schengen visas will be issued in a digital format as a 2D barcode, making is safer and harder to forge than the current ones.
“Europe is currently lagging our peers in digital visa procedures. With this reform, we will catch up, and the whole process will become cheaper and easier for applicants. It will also make it harder to abuse the system, making the process safer. This single EU visa on a unified platform will be a building block for Europe as a single geographical entity,” said Matjaž Nemec, European Parliament spokesperson.