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EU might require visas for U.S. and Canadian visitors

  • Tuesday, 12 April 2016 09:24

Visa-free travel throughout the EU’s Schengen region may be coming to an end.
Currently, Americans and Canadians only need a passport to visit the EU while visitors from other countries like Poland, Croatia, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania need a visa. Documents required for an EU visa include a bank letter showing funds to cover three weeks in France; an employer’s letter stating you are employed; a 30,000 euro health insurance policy; airlines ticket(s); hotel reservations; two color photos, and at least one blank page for miscellaneous notations.
Officials across Europe have met and announced they may suspend the visa waiver program Americans and Canadians currently enjoy unless the U.S. and Canada waive the visa requirement for all EU nations. "The objective here is to achieve full visa waiver reciprocity for citizens of all member states and this is a priority for the European Union," said Mina Andreeva, a spokesperson for the European Commission. The US and Canada currently require visas for visitors from certain European nations.
For its part, the U.S. says visitors required to have visas to enter the U.S. are from noncompliant countries that have not met requirements for its Visa Waiver Program. However, Europe may be demanding visa waivers at exactly the wrong time following the San Bernardino terrorist attacks and severe criticism of Pres. Barack Obama’s Syrian immigrant resettlement plan.
"We maintain an open dialogue with each of these countries about the program's requirements and how each of the five countries is progressing," a State Department official said.
Canada’s visa-waiver program is also based on factors other than reciprocity.
Currently, the European Commission, under EU rules, must propose reciprocal visa requirements for countries that do not afford visa-free travel to EU citizens two years after notification of EU policy; that deadline for the US and Canada will pass on Tuesday.
If the EU law is enforced it will take effect in four months. The visa requirement for Americans and Canadians does not affect visitors in the UK and Ireland because those nations have rejected the EU rule. Meanwhile, residents from 38 countries are allowed visa-free travel inside the US including 23 EU member states and Australia, Andorra, Brunei, Norway, Iceland, San Marino, Singapore, Japan, Chile, Liechtenstein, South Korea, Switzerland, Monaco, Taiwan and New Zealand.
Uncontrolled immigration across Europe led to another change affecting travel in the EU this week that will log visitors' photos and fingerprints in hopes of combating and preventing terrorism and terrorist attacks. At the same time, critics are saying the EU’s Schengen program that allows freedom to travel throughout the EU region should be replaced by a system designed to enforce border security for individual member states.

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