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23 Jan 2020

EU says will not freeze Schengen visa fees for Belarusians until visa facilitation agreement

EU says will not freeze Schengen visa fees for Belarusians until visa facilitation agreement

MINSK, 23 January (BelTA) – The European Union will not freeze the Schengen visa fees for Belarusians at €60 until the visa facilitation agreement comes into force, BelTA learned from the EU Delegation to Belarus.

“In nine days, on 2 February 2020, the revised EU Visa Code will become applicable, which, among other changes, will increase the visa fee worldwide, including in Belarus. However, such an increase would be temporary only until the Visa Facilitation Agreement enters into force. The visa fee would then automatically decrease from €80 to €35 for all Belarusian citizens. Taking into consideration the time frame and procedural requirements, it is impossible to rescind (freeze) the increase in the visa fee for Belarusians after 2 February,” the EU Delegation informed.

A reminder, Belarus and the European Union signed the agreement on facilitating visa procedures on 8 January. The visa facilitation agreement provides for mutual facilitation of visa procedures for a broad spectrum of citizens and for reducing visa fees. Citizens will be able to apply for visas to embassies of European nations and to visa centers. The Schengen visa fee for Belarusians will drop to €35 while the decision to issue a visa will be made within ten days (30 days if additional background checks are required). Many groups of citizens will be able to apply for visas without paying the fee depending on the purpose of the visit and will be able to get multiple-entry visas with longer periods of validity using a simplified procedure.

The cost of Belarusian visas for the European Union citizens will drop to €35 as well. In addition to that, the grounds for the visa waiver for non-commercial purposes will be expanded. The duration of stay of foreigners in Belarus will be doubled from 90 days per year to 180 days.

Once the documents are ratified by the Belarusian parliament, they should be endorsed by the European Parliament. They will come into force on the first day of the second month after the sides have notified each other about the completion of the ratification procedures. The visa facilitation agreement is expected to come into effect in June 2020. Belarusian MPs are set to ratify the agreement at the spring session in early April.

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