The Commission of the European Union has said that the digitalisation of the visa application procedure will have a significant impact on the Schengen visa processing time.
The European Commission Spokesperson for Home Affairs, Anitta Hipper, told SchengenVisaInfo.com that the digitalisation of the visa procedure will contribute to improving the processing time, suggesting that there will no longer be long waiting periods to receive a decision.
According to her, when the application procedure for Schengen visas goes fully online, applicants will not be required to submit physical copies of their documents, reducing the administrative burden associated with handling paper applications and putting the visa sticker.
The digitalisation of the visa procedure means that Member States will process digital applications and issue visas digitally. This will reduce the administrative burden associated with handling paper applications, visa stickers and contribute to improving the processing time.
The rules on the digitalisation of the visa procedure were agreed upon by the European Parliament and the Council in an attempt to modernise, simplify, and harmonise the visa procedures for nationals of third countries applying for a visa and for the EU Member States who need to grant the visas.
As Hipper said for SchengenVisaInfo.com, digitalisation will modernise two main aspects of the visa procedure.
Firstly, as Hipper explained, the EU Visa Application platform will provide applicants with a harmonised and seamless procedure, saving costs to travel to the consulate or any visa application centre.
Secondly, the visa will be issued in a digital format, and it will be digitally linked to the travel document.
This means that visa applicants do not have to leave their travel document at the consulate or Visa Application Centre to add a visa sticker, plus no costs to get the travel document back.
However, Hipper noted that several factors come into play when processing Schengen visa applications.
The Schengen Member States have been receiving a high number of visa applications post-pandemic, and the high demand has had an impact on the procedures.
Delays have been especially felt during the holiday period, and for this reason, Hipper said that the Commission had already called all the Member States to improve their operational capacities and address the issue by releasing more appointments.
Some Member States have said that they update the system regularly in order to make sure that the application process goes smoothly for everyone. They have also said that they increase the number of staff depending on the demand to ensure that all applications are being processed within a reasonable time.