17 Jan 2023 15:57

Russian tourists stop receiving Schengen visas for longer than 1 year

MOSCOW. Jan 17 (Interfax) - Following the termination of the Russia-EU visa facilitation agreement, European consulates stopped issuing Schengen visas for more than one year to Russian citizens, and most visas are issued for the trip period, the Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR) said on Tuesday with reference to tour operators.

"The visa process has been seriously complicated in terms of validity period and required documents. Yet the most unpleasant thing is the brief period of visa validity. Previously, Russians were issued visas for two, three or, often, five years, but now a multi-entry visa is issued for six or 12 months at the most. Those with a weak visa history will receive a single-entry visa for the trip period," the tour operators said.

Unlike before, the period of visa validity does not depend on the applicant's visa history, they said.

"A person may have several long-term visas in one's passport and a good visa history. Yet a new visa will be issued for six months only. Meanwhile, others who had two short-term visas in the past may get a yearlong multi-entry visa. Tourists should be prepared to receive a visa for a period shorter than requested despite frequent visits to Europe," ATOR said.

Nevertheless, it is realistic to get a visa on condition of providing all necessary documents and statements, such as a tour voucher, a hotel booking, two-way tickets, statements from the place of employment and the bank, and some other documents required of tourists.

"According to tour operators, it takes two and a half or three weeks to get a Schengen visa in Moscow. Such countries as Austria, Greece, Croatia, Italy, Spain, France, Greece, Hungary, Slovenia and Switzerland continue to accept Schengen visa applications from Russian tourists. It is more likely to receive long-term visas in the consulates of France and Italy. Austria, Hungary and Slovenia usually issue single-entry visas. The Greek consulate issues short-term and single-entry visas," ATOR said.

It is now easier to make visa application appointments with the visa centers of Italy and Hungary, and much more difficult to find a vacant slot for filing a Schengen visa application with France or Spain.

ATOR noted that six European countries had stopped issuing tourist visas to Russia and banned Russian tourists. These are Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Finland, Czechia and Estonia. Germany, Slovenia and Malta require a policy from a European insurance company, and Germany also conditions the visa issuance on an account in a bank that operates in the EU.

The Council of Europe terminated the EU-Russia visa facilitation agreement on September 12, 2022. It now takes longer to receive a Schengen visa, the consular fee has grown from 35 to 80 euros, and applicants may be required to provide additional documents.