9 Sep 2022 23:12

EC recommends EU countries review visas already issued to Russians

BRUSSELS. Sept 9 (Interfax) - It makes sense for European Union countries to check if the Russians already in possession of a Schengen visa pose a security threat, the European Commission said in its recommendations published on Friday.

"Member States should also adopt a strict approach with respect to reassessing visas already issued to any citizen of the Russian Federation, similarly to the principles applied when assessing new visa applications lodged by citizens of the Russian Federation," the statement said.

Among other things, the EC noted that "greater scrutiny in respect of Russian nationals, based on a re-examination of the individual situation in the current geopolitical context, could result in an individual being identified as a potential threat." In such cases, an already issued visa should be annulled and the issuing country should inform the visa holder accordingly, the document's authors said.

As a rule, such decisions should be made by the country which issued the visa. However, in some cases, this could be done by another Schengen Area member.

"Persons whose visa has been revoked have the right to appeal such a decision," the document said.

At the same time, having a Schengen visa is no guarantee that its Russian holder will get into a Schengen country using that visa, it said.

"The mere possession of a visa does not confer an automatic right of entry into the Schengen area," the EC document said. Thus, a Schengen Agreement signatory can check at the border whether the visa holder still complies with the criteria for entering the Schengen Area.

In addition, EU countries should increase the visa processing time for Russians to 45 days, the document said.

"The Commission considers that Member States should make full use, where necessary, of the possibility to extend the period for taking a decision on a visa application to 45 days," the document said.

Such an approach should apply to certain categories of applicant, such as "those who do not have an essential reason to travel, notably those applying for a visa for the purpose of tourism or those whose travel is not urgent".

Applications from those who have "an essential purpose" and those who can "invoke a justified case of emergency" for a trip, could be considered within a shorter period of time.

The document also says that in case of having "reasonable doubts" regarding the authenticity of the documents submitted by an applicant in order to receive a visa, including those concerning the purpose of a trip, the application must be refused and the refusal must be registered in a special system "ensuring that a durable record of this is visible to all consulates" in other EU countries.

EU countries must be guided by "a very strict approach" in regard to Russian tourists, since "it is more difficult to assess the justification for the journey, as compared to other purposes (business trip, family visits or medical appointment)," the EC document said.