Lithuania eager to relax visa regulations with Belarus

May marked the 15th anniversary of Lithuania’s accession to the European Union and accession to the Schengen Agreement. Border controls at Lithuania’s borders with other member states were abolished in December 2007. Photo – Forum / Zuma Press – News

This was stated by Lithuanian ambassador to our country Andrius Pulokas in a conversation with the Interfax agency.

According to the diplomat, Lithuania, as a member of the Schengen area, is very interested in the speedy signing of the visa facilitation agreement between Belarus and the European Union.

“This is very important because it will simplify some procedures, and, most importantly, there will be a reduction in the cost of consular fees. It is also important because a new Visa Code has been prepared in the Schengen area itself. And we should bear in mind that after the new code comes into force, the cost of the consular fee will increase to €80 for all countries that will not have a visa facilitation agreement. I wouldn’t like to get into a situation when the new Visa Code comes into force, but there is no agreement with Belarus,” said Andrius Pulokas.

Amendments to the EU Visa Code were adopted by the European Council on June 6. They will probably come into force in July. It will be put into practice six months after that.

What will change

According to the new visa rules, the visa will be issued within 10 days, not 15 days.

Visa applications can be submitted six months before the trip, rather than three months before the trip.

The application procedure will be fully electronic.

There is a proposal for Schengen countries to issue short-term visas directly at the border. Issuance of such visas will be limited, and their recipients will be able to stay only in the country where the visa was issued.

For Belarusians, the document means that the visa will be easier and faster to get, but also more expensive. Instead of the current 60 it will cost 80 euros.

For the citizens of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, the fee will not change. They will continue to pay 35 euros for the visa — this amount is specified in the agreements of these countries with the EU to simplify the issuance of visas.

Brussels explains that the increase in the cost is necessary to purchase new software and arrange consular staff needed to check visa applications more thoroughly.

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