EU simplifies visa regime for Russia

On June 1, agreements between Russia and the European Union on simplifying the visa regime and on readmission come into force.

Deputy Director of the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Andrei Podelyshev on Thursday called the agreement “a pilot article for further negotiations towards a visa-free regime between Russia and the European Union.”

The agreement on visa facilitation establishes a simplified procedure for issuing visas to members of official delegations, entrepreneurs, journalists, scientists, culture and education, students and schoolchildren, close relatives living in these countries, as well as drivers engaged in international passenger and cargo transportation. According to the rules that will enter into force, a simple written request from the receiving or sending organizations will be enough to obtain a visa, without the usual invitation in such cases.

Multiple entry visas for these categories of citizens will be issued for a period of one to five years. At the same time, those citizens who have been issued and used a visa to visit the relevant state at least once in the previous year can apply for an annual multiple visa.

The agreement also fixes the amount of visa fees: 35 euros for a visa from four to ten days and 70 euros – if applied less than 72 hours before the expected departure date. At the same time, certain categories of citizens – people with disabilities and their close relatives, members of official delegations, schoolchildren, students and those traveling on humanitarian matters are exempted from paying visa fees. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, in connection with the signing of the agreement, the EU canceled the planned increase in the amount of the “Schengen” fee for tourists from Russia to 60 euros.

In addition, the agreement provides for visa-free travel for holders of diplomatic passports on both sides, as well as the creation of a special committee to monitor the implementation of the agreement. The changes will not affect the procedure for issuing visas to the UK, Ireland and Denmark. Negotiations on visa facilitation with these EU member states are being conducted by Russia on a bilateral basis.

At the same time as the visa agreement, the readmission agreement between the Russian Federation and the European Community comes into force. It provides for bilateral cooperation on the return of illegal migrants. As noted in the Russian Foreign Ministry, the implementation of this agreement will also accelerate the introduction of a visa-free regime.

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