The consulates and visa centers of the EU countries have already published on their websites information about the increase in the amount of the visa fee after the EU suspended the agreement on September 12 with Russia on a simplified visa regime. However, neither the tour operators nor the visa centers themselves know exactly how they will accept documents and issue visas to organized tourists under the new conditions. So far, according to ATOR, on the basis of the data received, the experts of the tourist market give tourists the following advice.
First, what has really changed? The financial issue has mainly changed: for adults, the visa fee has increased from 35 to 80 euros, for children 6-12 years old – from 35 to 40 euros. Also among the changes is an increase in the standard period for considering a visa application from 10 to 15 days, in some cases up to 45 days if additional documents are required – and more documents will be required to justify the purpose of the trip, though what this “more” is, is not yet to be specified.
Also, now officially there is no way to apply for an urgent visa and, as ATOR formulated, “it will be more difficult” to get a multiple and “long” Schengen – we recall that in the EU they may even try to refuse it. Also, a statement was made that Russian tourists may not be issued a full-fledged Schengen, but the so-called LTV visas – i.e. visas, including multiple entries, which are valid only for the country that issued them.
However, so far, according to the experts of the tourist market, the visa centers have not received any official clarifications on how documents should be received from clients of tour operators. In particular, there is no information about the criteria for assessing applicants and the set of documents required by the new rules. “Until the situation is clarified, the tour operator will continue to provide services to travelers in the same mode,” added TEZ TOUR. It is expected that the details will be clarified before the end of this week.
The tour operators also announced a list of loyal countries that continue to issue visas to Russian tourists with little or no problems. These include the following countries:
- Cyprus (but keep in mind that the latter issues a national visa, not a Schengen one).
As for the countries that do not issue tourist visas, so far they include all the Baltic countries, as well as Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Tourists were also informed that the average processing of documents takes about four weeks, but the situation varies greatly from consulate to consulate. Thus, the Hungarian consulate in Moscow on average issues a visa in 15 calendar days, the Greek consulate – in 2.5 weeks. As experts add, there is such a situation that it is the loyalty of individual countries that leads to queues for registration and a longer wait for a visa to be issued: “loyalty flows directly into excitement and queues,” as tour operators formulate. Among them are France, Spain and Germany – here the terms for obtaining visas to such countries are from one and a half months.
In general, tour operators warn that under the new rules, the visa processing time will be at least 1.5-2 months. But it is better to take care of obtaining a visa even earlier – 3-4 months before the planned tour.
They also note that so far no ban on multiple entry visas has been officially announced. However, it will obviously become more difficult to get them – especially for those who have a short visa history. Although tourists who “travel a lot and use visas correctly” can still get a multi-Schengen. Some tour operators, however, fear that Russians will be issued multiple-entry LTV visas, unlike full-fledged Schengen ones, which give the right to enter only the country that issued the visa. But they are not afraid of an increase in the number of refusals in the tourist market, advising tourists only to “be attentive to the requirements of the Consulates and prepare documents more carefully”, as well as vigilantly observe the rule of the first entry, i.e. “sneak” into Europe through the country that issued the visa – otherwise they may not be allowed. They also note that the clients of tour operators will have an indisputable plus: visa specialists of travel companies fill out the questionnaires correctly, and most importantly, provide documents confirming the purpose of the trip (vouchers, air tickets, etc.).
“Despite the announced tightening in visa issue, it is possible and necessary to apply for Schengen, including when planning a trip to Europe for the New Year holidays. There is time to apply for a visa. But it’s worth hurrying, the closer to the New Year, the more difficult it will be to sign up for the submission of documents,” ATOR added.
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