The Schengen visa steps up
Rules & Law
With a comprehensive European strategy in place concerning visa procedures for Chinese visitors, the number of entries has soared. The Consulate General in Shanghai reported that Franceâ€™s introduction of a 48-hour fast track visa system has entailed a 45% increase in submissions since January 2014, compared with the same period of the previous year. On the other side of the English Channel, the United Kingdom launched a 24-hour priority visa that became operational in August. Cost for this 24-hour, superfast track visa is Â£600 (â‚¬756).
Brusells WHATâ€™S NEW - In 2013, Chinese citizens applied for 1,5 million Schengen visas. Earlier this year, the EU announced the launch of a new system of visa delivery by May 2015, in order to facilitate the issuance of visas with a 3 to 5 year validity for multiple entries into Europe. Of course this innovation affects every country that has regular relations with the EU, not just China: the fact is that Beijing is the third source of travelers to Europe after Russia and Ukraine. For Chinese tourists, the main consequence of the European Commission action is that they will also need to register their fingerprints, just as the UK visa system requires now. This biological data, together with other necessary information about the applicants, will be stored in a new â€œVisa Information Systemâ€ (VIS). Then, when in possession of a good â€œrating,â€ the candidate will find it easier to apply for multiple entries to the EU.
A VISA FOR A CONTINENT - For periods up to 90 days, the Schengen visa is the ordinary procedure to enter a European country, and from there, all the others. The only exceptions â€“ apparently about to be partially overturned by new national policies â€“ consist of Ireland and the UK. In 2004, a â€œMemorandum of Understandingâ€ was signed between the EU and the National Tourism Administration (CNTA) of the People's Republic of China on visa and related issues concerning tourist groups from Beijing. At the same time, the â€œApproved Destinations Statusâ€ (ADS) was introduced; this grants official recognition to countries that the communist government allows to host organized tours from China. In 2013, the Schengen visa refusal rate for Chinese applicants was 3,9%.