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Rejected asylum-seekers being deported from Italy. Citizens from non-EU countries that do not take back rejected asylum-seekers may find it more difficult to obtain visas for the EU / Photo: Investigative Reporting Project Italy (IRPI)

EU restricts visas for countries that don’t take back rejected asylum-seekers

Citizens from non-EU countries that do not take back rejected asylum-seekers may find it more difficult to obtain visas for the EU. Conversely, full cooperation could reap extra rewards.

The European Union on Thursday announced plans to tie the issuing of visas to the willingness of third countries to take back their nationals whose asylum applications have been rejected by member states of the bloc.

The plan envisions a carrot and stick approach, with those countries that cooperate seeing shorter processing times, lower fees, and extended visa stays, and vice-versa.

Additionally, diplomats from those countries refusing to facilitate returns could also be charged for visa processing.

The move is based on a plan put forward by former Germany’s Foreign Minister Thomas de Maiziere in May 2017.

The EU has already put the plan into practice with Bangladesh. According to EU diplomats, Bangladesh has significantly improved cooperation since the test project was introduced.

Legislating leverage

The new changes will be entered into the EU’s Visa Code and will go into effect at the end of 2019. Thereafter, the European Commission will conduct annual appraisals of third country cooperation. In the event that a country’s cooperation should be found deficient, “specific restrictive measures” will be put in place.

The EU is also planning a general overhaul of its visa procedure in the hope of streamlining it. In future, travellers will be able to fill out and sign an online application six months prior to travel. Fees will be raised from €60 ($68) to €80 as well. 

According to the European Commission, some 14 million Schengen Area visas were handed out in 2016.

© DW

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