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2 Dec 2015

Italian embassy in Belarus eager to give visas faster

MINSK, 2 December (BelTA) – The Embassy of Italy in Belarus has set out to reduce the time needed to process Schengen visa applications to less than a week, BelTA learned from Ugo Boni, Counsellor for Commercial Affairs of the Embassy.

The official said: “We hope that all the procedures will take less time than they do now. For now I cannot say when exactly it will happen but we intend to reduce the time required to get visas.” At present it takes a week to get Schengen visas from the Italian diplomatic mission.

Ugo Boni said he hopes that the opening of three Italian visa centers in Minsk, Brest, and Gomel will make the visa acquisition process more convenient and simpler, particularly for residents of the regions.

The number of Belarusian tourists willing to travel to Italy has increased considerably in the last few years. Five or ten years ago most of the applications requested visas for Belarusian kids, who went to Italy for all kinds of rehabilitation programs. At present these applications account for only 20-25% of the total, while tourists account for 60-65%. The other categories include businessmen, truck drivers, and so on. At the same time the number of visa applications has dropped this year. The general trend is observed in most of the embassies. Ugo Boni assumed that it had been caused by the crisis as well as the new fingerprinting practice. In 2014 the Embassy issued about 45,000 visas. This year the number is expected to be close to 40,000.

The diplomat noted: “I think in the future the number of visa applications will rise as well as the number of tourists, who visit Italy. We do our best to make the visa acquisition process as simple as possible and to remove hindrances standing in the way of those willing to visit Italy.”

“A short while ago we also started offering six-month and one-year Schengen visas to everyone, who already had Schengen visas and used them correctly. Those, who had one-year visas, can now get two-year ones. I think in the future everything will only become simpler. People will not have to apply for visas often because the visas will have longer validity periods,” said the Counsellor for Commercial Affairs of the Embassy.

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