Now, frequent travellers can get long term Schengen visa for upto 5 years

NEW DELHI: Frequent travelers to Europe will no longer need to repeatedly apply for short-term Schengen visas usually issued till now.
European Union’s new visa rules from February 2 allow multiple-entry visas with long validity, ranging from 1 to 5 years, under a graded approach where a frequent traveler will need to earn the next stage of longer duration visa.
The new rules say multiple-entry visas with a long validity shall be issued for validity of one, two or five years, unless the validity of the visa would exceed that of the travel document.
“For a validity period of one year, provided that the applicant has obtained and lawfully used three visas within the previous two years. For a validity period of two years, provided that the applicant has obtained and lawfully used a previous multiple-entry visa valid for one year within the previous two years. For a validity period of five years, provided that the applicant has obtained and lawfully used a previous multiple-entry visa valid for two years within the previous three years,” the rules say.
The EU website says about the new visa code: “Frequent travellers with a positive visa history are to be granted multiple-entry visa with a gradually increasing validity period from 1 year to a maximum of 5 years. Travellers’ fulfilment of entry conditions will be thoroughly and repeatedly verified in all cases, and only persons with a positive visa track record will be issued multiple-entry visas with a long validity. Multiple-entry visas allow the holder to travel repeatedly to the EU during the period of validity of the visa.”
EU says the new regime will save “frequent travellers time and money, as they will have to apply for a new visa less often.” A Schengen visa is for entry to 22 EU countries like Austria, Czechia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden and four associated countries: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
A leading travel agent says a multiple-entry Schengen visa holder should not remain in the Schengen zone longer than 90 days, within 180 days.
The other changes in the visa rules, reported by TOI on January 25, allow visa applications to be submitted up to 6 months before intended travel, instead of three months previously. This will allow people to plan better. In case visa is denied, while the visa fee itself is non-refundable, people will lose less for cancelling their airline tickets as they will be doing so much ahead of the proposed travel date.
While the European Union (EU) is easing the travel norms with these changes, the visa cost is will be raised from 60 euros to 80 euros from February 2. The fee for children in the age group of 6 to 12 will be raised from 35 euros to 40 euros. (1 euro is about Rs 78 at current exchange rate).

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