The EU wants to create a platform for visa applications, reducing the effort and bureaucracy involved in the process. As Liechtenstein and Switzerland are part of the Schengen area, it would be easier for visitors to come and for companies to invite foreign job applicants and business partners.

One of the main challenges of every company is getting the right people. In particular, technology companies compete for talent, and there is a shortage. And as the European population is about to start shrinking, that problem will become even more severe in the near-term future. One possible way to at least smoothen the problem is immigration. But governments don’t exactly make that easy with their vast amounts of bureaucracy.

Against that backdrop, the EU is currently debating the proposal of a digital Schengen visa. The Schengen area includes the 22 EU member states plus Liechtenstein, Iceland, Switzerland, and Norway. If you hold a Schengen visa, you can travel to these countries.

Simplifying the process

According to the proposal from the European Commission, the EU’s Schengen visa system is to be fully digitized. The proposal is part of a broader package of measures on migration aimed at attracting talent to the EU. This is particularly relevant to certain sectors such as ICT, science, engineering, and other crucial green and digital transformation areas.

According to the EU commission, the goal is to create a completely digital visa application and payment procedures that applicants can complete online, which would simplify the process and reduce costs. The process will also improve security, so the Commission, as digital visas are less vulnerable to counterfeiting and fraud.

“Half of those who come to the EU on a Schengen visa find the visa application process cumbersome. A third must travel long distances to apply for a visa,” said EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson. “It is highly timely that the EU provides a fast, secure, and web-based visa application platform for the citizens of the 102 countries who need a short-term visa to travel to the EU.”

A digital visa platform

The idea is not new. Digitizing the visa system was a goal originally set out in the EU’s New Migration and Asylum Pact, introduced in 2020. The deadline for achieving this goal was set for 2025.

The pandemic has shown the importance of digital procedures and has made immigration even more cumbersome. As of today, getting a visa still requires people to come in person to a consulate, which often includes extremely long waiting times.

The proposal announced on April 27th calls for creating a digital visa platform. Applicants apply digitally through the platform. If they plan to travel to more than one country, the platform will automatically determine who is responsible for verifying their visa application.

Digitization of public services, in general, is one of the four key areas of the EU’s Digital Decade goals. By 2030, 100 percent of key public services should be fully available online. According to the Commission’s “e-government benchmark” for 2021, which compares the level of digitization of public services across EU countries, more than eight out of ten public services are already available online.

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