The European Union (EU) has recently signed short-stay visa waiver agreements with St Lucia, Dominica, Grenada, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Vanuatu, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago and Timor Leste.

Agreements

On May 26th 2015, the EU signed a short-stay visa waiver agreement with Timor Leste which will be provisionally applied until it is ratified by the European Parliament. On May 28th, 2015, the EU signed short-stay visa waiver agreements with St Lucia, Dominica, Grenada, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Vanuatu, Samoa and Trinidad and Tobago. These agreements will be applied on a provisional basis until ratified by the European Parliament and the National Parliaments of these countries. The reciprocal Schengen visa waiver is good for short visits for a period of stay of 90 days in any 180-day period, including tourism, business and journalism, sports, artistic performances and intra-corporate training. It does not apply to persons travelling for the purpose of carrying out a paid activity.

Exceptions

The visa waiver agreements do not apply to the United Kingdom and Ireland which have opted out of the Schengen area. Nor do they automatically apply to Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein (non-EU participants in the Schengen Area) which are expected to sign separate equivalent agreements in each case.

Background

The Schengen Area consists of 22 European Union Member States and four non-members: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania are not yet part of the Schengen Area, but nonetheless have a visa policy that is based on the Schengen area.

The visa policy of the Schengen Area determines which nationalities require visas to enter the zone, and which are visa exempt. Currently 51 nationalities qualify for the visa waiver, and the EU intends to sign reciprocal visa waiver agreements with Peru and Colombia and eight more countries – all Pacific islands – in 2015. Russia, Ukraine, Kosovo and Turkey are also in the process of negotiating visa-free agreements with the EU. The United Arab Emirates signed a visa waiver agreement with the EU in May 2015.


Please note that this is general information only and not intended as advice on a specific matter. Please feel free to contact Fakhoury Global Immigration directly with questions exclusive to your situation. This news alert may have been prepared using information from Peregrine Immigration Management, which is licensed to Fakhoury Global Immigration.