Posted on 06.10.2012 in Country, Publications

Main findings of independent monitoring of the EU visa policy in Ukraine in the year 2012

Europe without Barriers publishes the main monitoring findings on the visa policy of the EU and Schengen Member States in 2012. The publication contains analysis of the implementation practice of the main provisions of the EU-Ukraine Visa Facilitation Agreement and the EU Visa Code. Four types of visa practice – friendly», «neutral» and «problematic» consular practices are also comprised into analysis.

 MAIN FINDINGS

Visa practice of each country reflects both its administrative culture and goodwill standards regarding the country of stay and its citizens. Regardless the existing common EU legislative framework on visa procedures, some

Member States introduce stricter or, on the contrary, facilitated and more «human» standards and requirements for visa applicants. In general, the list of more loyal («friendly») and stricter («problematic») types of visa policies remains the same during the entire monitoring period. For example, most countries of Central and Eastern Europe (Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Baltic countries) demonstrated a relatively loyal visa practice during the entire monitoring period ever since they joined the Schengen area at the end of 2007. Visa requirements of Western European countries are traditionally stricter. At the same time, the visa practice of individual countries is often changing, particular MS can significantly adjust both its official visa statistics and perception of its policy on behalf of visa applicants. Thus, for example, the visa practice of Greece and Spain has recently demonstrated positive tendencies.

We did not intend to obtain the full and thorough evaluation of Visa Facilitation Agreement (VFA) and the EU Visa Code (the Code): The limited scope of our monitoring made us focus only on those parameters which are

the most noticeable and vulnerable for visa applicants. These important parameters include: issuance of long-term multipleentry visas, the number of supporting documents required for submission from certain categories of applicants, waiving the consular fee. Introduction of the regulations mentioned above has already led to a certain improvement of the situation with the EU MS visa issuance. However, it would be premature to state that all law-abiding citizens intending to travel to the EU are able to do so without certain problems.

 Long-term and multiple-entry visas

Hungary remains the single leader in issuing long term multiple entry visas(58,1% of visas valid for more than 6 months including the record 22,5% of visas valid for 365+, i.e. mainly for 2, 3 and 5 years). Last year (2011) Hungary was also the first in this category having issued 57,2% of all visas valid for more than 6 months.

 Apart from Hungary (22.5%), Estonia (15%) and Germany (10.3%) are leaders in terms of the «longest» 365+ visa category. It is important to underline that the record indicator for Hungary has been achieved mainly due to the special  visa policy of its two Consulates located in Transcarpathian region (Uzhgorod and Beregovo) targeting mostly the local Hungarian ethnic community. Thus, the evident positive achievement of Hungary registered in our monitoring is determined not merely by better implementation of the Agreement and the Code, but rather by being concerned about its own ethnic minority which compactly resides in the Transcarpathian region. If we add up long-term (from 6 months to one year including) and medium- term (for more than 3 months and up to 6 months) visas, apart from Hungary, Slovakia, Germany and Estonia, the group of leaders is complemented by Poland and Greece.

The number of multiple-entry and long- (medium-) term visas has been gradually increasing each year. Our research shows:

1. 41.2% multiple-entry visas (compared to 37.3% in summer 2011)

2. 17.8% long-term visas valid for longer than 6 months (compared to 17.7% in summer 2011)

3. 14.1% medium-term visas valid for longer than 3 months and up to 6 months (compared to 11.6% in summer 2009)

 In addition, this year for the first time the number of 365+ category visas (mainly valid for 2, 3 and 5 years) has exceeded statistical error and reached 3.7% (in summer 2011 it was as few as 0.4%). At the same time, comparing the number of multiple-entry and longterm visas, we detected that about one-fourth of all multiple-entry visas are valid for a short term (up to 3 months) significantly decreasing the objective value of such visas for applicants and contradicting the Article 24.2 of the Code according to which multiple-entry visas are issued for a period of «from 6 months to 5 years».

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