The Council of the European Union (EU) announced new rules on Monday, November 13, enabling individuals to apply for Schengen visas entirely online through a dedicated visa

application platform. This move eliminates the need for visa stickers on passports and ends the requirement for consulate or service provider visits.

Spain's Interior Minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, emphasized that the online visa system aims to simplify the application process for travelers while streamlining national administrations' responses.

Key Updates to the Schengen Visa Process:

Entirely Online Application:

The EU will develop a new visa application platform, allowing applicants to enter relevant data, upload digital copies of travel documents and supporting materials, and pay visa fees.

Elimination of Consulate Visits:

In-person appearances at consulates will no longer be necessary for most applicants. Exceptions include first-time applicants, individuals with expired biometric data, and those with new travel documents.

Digital Format Instead of Visa Stickers:

Visa stickers on passports will be replaced by digitally issued visas presented as a 2D barcode with cryptographic signatures. This change aims to enhance security by reducing the risk of counterfeit and stolen visa stickers.

Implementation Timeline: Once the regulations are signed, they will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union and become effective 20 days after publication. The specific application date for these new rules will be determined upon the completion of technical work on the visa platform and digital visas.

These updates mark a significant shift in the Schengen Visa process, offering greater convenience to applicants and leveraging digital advancements to enhance security measures.