The European Commission has begun to urge Member States to resume their visa operations in foreign nations, according to a press release published by the EC. With the EU and Schengen beginning to open their borders to some nationalities from 1 July 2020, nationalities qualified as low risk will be able to enter but may need a visa in order to do so.
The urging comes as part of the EU trying to slowly open back up and return to normal, but most of all to try and restart its suffering tourism industry.
Most Member States completely halted visa operations in their foreign embassies and consulates as a result of global COVID-19 shutdowns after potential travelers were not being allowed into the EU for the past 3+ anyways.
However, the EC has called for a synchronized approach to resuming operations in visa services with the gradual lifting of travel restrictions across the EU and Schengen. They have released guidance of how Member States should go about accomplishing this.
“Travellers will need to be able to access visa services again and Member States should synchronise the resumption of visa operations with the lifting of travel restrictions. This is why today the Commission presents guidance for a phased and coordinated return of visa operations to normal,” the press release reads.
The EC also underlined that in addition to a synchronized approach to reopening, there should be good communication with the public as well as the full and competent implementation of EU visa regulations, and hygiene procedures covered in their guidance.
“A harmonised approach is best achieved through consulates simultaneously resuming operations in each location and through full implementation of EU visa rules, together with good communication towards the public. The guidance also covers hygiene measures and precautions for receiving visa applicants,” the press release reads.
In the press release the EC also highlighted that if the Member State conducting visa operations abroad requires health checks before entering that the checks should be done just before the traveler’s departure and should be universal for every applicant.
“Finally, if a Member State requires health checks, these should take place at the time of travel or shortly before, rather than when applying for a visa; and should apply to all travellers from a given location irrespective of their nationality or visa status,” the press release reads.
It is still unclear exactly when external EU borders will be back to being open as usual, however, we can observe progress in that direction.