European Union - Ukraine: EU approves visa waiver for Ukraine

What is the change? The EU Parliament has approved allowing Ukraine nationals visa-free trips to the Schengen Area for up to 90 days within a 180-day period.

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What does the change mean? The measure must be approved by EU member states and is expected to take effect in June.

  • Implementation time frame: Estimated June 2017.
  • Visas/permits affected: Visa waiver.
  • Who is affected: Ukrainian nationals traveling to Schengen member countries.
  • Business impact: The visa waiver will eliminate visa processing and will facilitate business travel for Ukrainians.
  • Next steps: Once the waiver is implemented, Ukrainians will be required to hold a biometric passport to avail themselves of the visa exemption.

Background: The measure allows Ukrainians to travel without a visa to the Schengen Area for up to 90 days in a 180-day period for business, tourism or family visits, but not for work. In April 2016, the European Commission recommended adding Ukraine to the list of nationals eligible for the Schengen visa waiver after determining that Ukraine had met key benchmarks on legal and political reforms. Negotiations over the visa waiver have been ongoing since 2008.

The EU also recently implemented visa-free travel for nationals of Georgia, but strengthened the mechanism for the EU to suspend visa waivers and re-impose visas in certain circumstances.

BAL Analysis: The waiver will benefit Ukrainians traveling to the EU (excluding Ireland and the U.K.) and ease consular visa processing. German consulates in particular receive a high volume of visa applications from Ukrainian nationals. Ukrainian nationals should anticipate high demand for biometric passports and apply early. Travelers are reminded that a 90-day stay is calculated within a rolling 180-day period and, if not counted properly, can lead to overstays.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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