What is the Schengen Visa?
A Schengen Visa is a short-stay visa that allows a person to travel to any members of the Schengen Area.
The Schengen Area:
This signifies a zone where 26 European countries, abolished their internal borders, for the free and unrestricted movement of people, in harmony with common rules for controlling external borders and fighting criminality by strengthening the common judicial system and police cooperation.
The 26 Schengen countries are:
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Benefits of the Schengen Visa changes:
South Africans are now subject to several changes in terms of visa application procedures, rules and benefits, which started when the new changes were made to the Visa in the beginning of February. The Schengen visa is one of the most famous visas in the world, and one of the best to have. These new changes that were brought forward, grants its holder the possibility of traveling to 26 European countries, where 22 of them are part of the European Union. Frequent travellers, who travelled to EU Member states and returned to their home countries without any infringements of visa conditions and/or overstays, may qualify to stay for longer with a validity of 5 years, subject to a certain criteria.
This criteria includes applicants who are arriving from a country with a good economic status and those who can show that they have a genuine intention to leave. Only the applicants that meet this criteria will be eligible to the 5 year multiple-entry Visas.
Cost of Visas:
These numerous benefits of the changes that was implemented to the Schengen visa, however, comes at a cost. The visa fee for the Schengen visa is expected to increase from €60 (R962) to €80 (R1,282) per application. Children, over the age of 6, will now have to pay €40 (R640) instead of the previous lower fee of €35 (R560) per application. The new rules also permit South Africans to apply up to six months in advance of their trip, instead of the current three-month window.
The new Schengen Visa will also allow for a mechanism to review the visa fees every three years and determine should these remain the same or increase. The same may compel non-Schengen countries in cooperating with the EU for the readmission of their illegal migrants.
Nevertheless, the Schengen area may see a substantial increase of travellers and seafarers as a result of these positive visa changes.
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by Angelique Wernich