New EU schengen visa rules on short-stay visas came into effect from 2 February 2020 which will affect nationals of 105 countries who require a visa to enter schengen area.

A uniform short-stay visa issued by one of these countries covers travel throughout the 26 Schengen countries for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.

Before we go on to read visa rules, first let us understand a bit about schengen area and countries participating in it. This will prepare you for easier travel and visa process without any confusions.

Which are Schengen countries?

The schengen area is a open single border covers a population of 400 million people covering 26 states.

26 Schengen states

22 EU countries that are part of the Schengen area borders (Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden),  as well as  for 4 Associated countries: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland

Non Schengen members

  • Five EU members that are not part of the Schengen Area, four—Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Romania—are legally obliged to join the area in the future
  • European microstates that are not members of the European Union forming within an EU member state—Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City
  • United Kingdom is not part of schengen area.
  • Ireland opted out therefore  not part of Schengen area

What has changed in 2020?

  • Visa fee: Visa application fee increased to €80 euros (from 60 euro). visa fee is still waived for children below 6 years old and minors age of 6 and 12 years are required to pay €40 euros
  • Early applications: Visa applications can be submitted up to 6 months before the intended travel (9 months for seafarers), instead of 3 months previously, allowing travellers to better plan their trips;
  • Multiple-entry visas with long validity (from 1 to 5 years) are now easier to obtain, saving frequent travellers time and money, as they will have to apply for a new visa less often. Frequent travellers with a positive visa history are to be granted multiple-entry visa with a gradually increasing validity period from 1 year to a maximum of 5 years.
  • Electronic applications: In most cases, an application can be submitted directly in the traveller’s country of residence, and where possible filled in and signed electronically (only hard copies were accepted until now), which will also save travellers time, money and hassle.
  • Processing times: 15 days remains unchanged and some applications take more time.

Where to apply?

You must follow these rules on where to apply depending on the country embassy.

  • Applicants must lodge their application at the consulate of the country they intend to visit.
  • Applicants planning to visit several Schengen states must apply at the consulate of the country where they will spend the longest period.
  • Applicants planning on visiting several Schengen states for equal lengths of stay must apply at the consulate of the country whose external borders they will cross first when entering the Schengen area.In case the Schengen state of destination has no consulate in the country where the applicant resides, the applicant should check whether it is represented by another consulate.

Remember to Follow these Visa rules

  • Applicants have to appear in person only when fingerprints are to be collected (i.e. every 59 months).
  • Passport issued for 10 years and must have atleast 3 months validity after the end of the stay
  • Present a medical travel insurance (must) covering the period of stay.

UK nationals will remain visa-free when travelling to the EU for short stays, so the revised visa rules will not apply to them.

Schengen Visa Statistics

Schengen States issue 14.3 million visas for short stays in 2018. France, Germany, Italy and Spain issued the most number of schengen visas for 2018 according to latest statistics from commission.

Schengen Visa Statistics

Schengen Visas  2018 Uniform Visas Applied Uniform Visas Issued (incl MEV)
France 4010604 3345400
Germany 2056296 1838775
Italy 1844140 1703912
Spain 1701379 1502696
Greece 855285 805115
Finland 769049 751358
Netherlands 682484 583137
Czech Republic 662902 630071
Switzerland 556520 487014
Poland 526715 508386
Lithuania 353059 346476
Austria 306133 280847
Portugal 266516 221009
Sweden 253292 207643
Hungary 228793 210827
Belgium 219827 173598
Norway 164591 146526
Denmark 164003 149744
Latvia 161709 157628
Estonia 127561 125465
Malta 32331 24931
Slovakia 26797 25230
Slovenia 26403 20171
Luxembourg 10876 10467
Iceland 9334 8856

Source: European Commission

Top Countries

These are the top 20 countries applying for schengen visas.

Top Schengen visa applicants

Schengen Visa Applications Visas Issued
RUSSIAN FEDERATION 3695671 3631320
CHINA 2823252 2707867
INDIA 1081359 974674
TURKEY 879240 799903
ALGERIA 713255 384420
BELARUS 681106 676984
MOROCCO 662585 528639
SAUDI ARABIA 360287 322004
THAILAND 332269 319729
UNITED KINGDOM 275099 266834
IRAN 273580 189030
TUNISIA 234452 186250
SOUTH AFRICA 221790 214491
INDONESIA 210468 205425
UKRAINE 191725 182400
EGYPT 190140 147340
PHILIPPINES 175703 159861
KUWAIT 174765 164742
USA 160749 152935

Source: European Commission