VISA WAIVER POSTPONED
The European Commission recently announced that the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) visa waiver is delayed until 2022. If you’re unfamiliar, the visa waiver program, once fully operational, will require all citizens from visa-exempt countries to register for an ETIAS visa waiver in order to travel to any of the Schengen Area countries, which are made up of 22 EU member states and 4 non-EU members who share a common visa policy.
Originally scheduled for 2020 and then 2021, the postponement has been deemed necessary to ensure everyone involved is able to make all the necessary adjustments before the launch date. By extending this time, it is expected that the new European system will have a smoother transition. While it is now scheduled to launch towards the end of 2022, there will still be a 6-month grace period for third-country nationals.
HOW WILL THIS CHANGE TRAVEL?
Following the 6-month grace period, ETIAS will become an obligatory entry requirement to enter the Schengen region. The ETIAS will reinforce EU border security by automatically pre-screening non-Europeans and will cross-check passenger data against several international security databases.
Once the visa waiver comes into effect, eligible applicants will be required to fill out an online form with a a few personal details and passport data. Provided nothing is flagged during the security scan, the ETIAS visa waiver will be approved within minutes and electronically linked to the applicant’s passport.
From 2023 and beyond, an approved ETIAS will be needed to enter the Schengen Area for leisure and tourism, business, transit, as well as short-term medical treatment.