Activist countries

EU countries must review Russian visa applications for security risks

Russian nationals applying for short-stay visas from EU countries must undergo a “strict security risk assessment”, the European Commission said.

The Commission has published new guidelines for Member States following a decision to suspend the EU’s visa facilitation agreement with Russia, which gives Member States broad discretion and increased control in the processing of requests.

Security assessments could lead to visa denial as well as the revocation of existing valid visas. Russian applicants traveling for non-essential reasons will also face a longer and more extensive process to submit their applications.

Margaritis Schinas, Vice-President of the Commission for Promoting Our European Way of Life, said: “In the current context, EU consulates in Russia must ensure a much higher degree of control over visa applications short stay.

“With today’s guidelines, we will do this on the basis of a clear, transparent and common approach. The EU will continue to act united in the face of Russia’s military aggression against an EU candidate country.”

Ylva Johansson, Commissioner for Home Affairs, said: “Being a tourist in the EU is not a fundamental right. With today’s guidelines, Member States are advised to check visa applications from Russian citizens carefully and with a high level of scrutiny.

“Visas should be refused when consulates identify security risks. Consulates should also give priority to applicants traveling to the EU for non-essential reasons.

“The EU will remain open to those in need of protection, such as journalists, dissidents, human rights activists and people traveling for family reasons.”