Citizens of 60 countries can currently travel to the Schengen Zone for short-term visits without applying for a visa. However, the European Union has been working on developing an automated system in order to control who enters European soil. What is ETIAS then? ETIAS is a travel authorization that will grant visitors admission to the 26 countries that make up the Schengen Area. ETIAS will not be the first travel authorization to be implemented by a country or a group of countries. The United States requires that citizens from countries in the Visa Waiver Program apply for an ESTA in order to enter the country.
What is ETIAS and how does it work?
ETIAS stands for European Travel Information and Authorization System. Back on November 2016, the EU announced its concerns with safety issues in the region related to terrorism threats and uncontrolled migration. ETIAS will be a tool to identify potential threats by analyzing the data provided by each traveler, this way the system will contribute to strengthening the Schengen Area external borders.
It is expected that the ETIAS visa for Europe will be launched in the year 2020. Once the system is available, citizens that are currently exempt from obtaining a visa to visit the European continent will have to apply online to obtain the ETIAS authorization. Travelers will be expected to apply at least 72 hours before departure and should complete the application with a valid passport.
In order to apply successfully, travelers should complete the ETIAS application form with their personal details, including full name, date, and place of birth. In addition, passport information should be provided. The ETIAS form will have a series of security, migration and health questions. To finalize the application, each traveler must pay the respective fee. Once the ETIAS application has been processed, the traveler will be notified of its approval via email.
The EU has struggled in recent years with terrorist attacks and the ETIAS visa is a step toward making the region more secure for its visitors and its citizens. When the applicant fills in their basic personal information and submits the ETIAS form, all of the data will be screened against a series of databases including the Interpol and Europol.
Once approved an ETIAS visa is expected to be valid for a period of three consecutive years and can be used for multiple trips of up to 90 days, within a 180-day period. When the system is implemented, travelers of eligible countries will be required to have a valid ETIAS before boarding the plane. The ETIAS will become mandatory for all eligible citizens over the age of 18.
It should be noted that an ETIAS cannot be used to study or work in Europe, the ETIAS will not function as a study visa or a work visa. Those citizens who wish to live, work, or study in a Schengen Member country must comply to each country's regulations and requirements.
ETIAS along with EES, Entry-Exit-System will speed up, facilitate, and reinforce the border control processes. It will provide protection against document and identity fraud. Some of the countries that will be able to obtain the ETIAS visa online are Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Honduras, Malaysia, New Zealand, and the United States among others.