European Union/Schengen: Schengen visa waiver proposed for Ukraine

The European Commission has recommended that Ukraine be added to the list of countries whose nationals are eligible for visa-free Schengen travel for business and tourism purposes.

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What does the change mean? If approved by the EU Council and Parliament, Ukrainian citizens holding biometric passports will be able to travel to the Schengen area without a visa for stays of up to 90 days in a 180-day period.

  • Implementation time frame: An implementation date has not been set.
  • Visas/permits affected: Visa waivers.
  • Who is affected: Ukrainian nationals making short trips to Schengen member countries.
  • Impact on processing times: Ukrainian nationals would not need to apply for visitor visas before traveling to the Schengen area.
  • Business impact: The visa waiver would ease business travel and eliminate the administrative burden of applying for visas at consulates.

Background: Negotiations between the EU and Ukraine over the visa waiver have been ongoing since October 2008. The European Commission announced Wednesday its proposal to add Ukraine to the Schengen visa waiver scheme, stating that Ukraine has met key benchmarks on legal and policy reforms that were set as preconditions to visa liberalization.

BAL Analysis: If approved by the EU Council and Parliament, the visa waiver would benefit Ukrainian nationals traveling to mainland Europe for business, tourism and family visits. Ukraine ranks second in the number of visa applicants at German consulates around the world (Russia being first). The U.K. and Ireland are not part of the Schengen area and visas would still be required for Ukrainians traveling to those two countries.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in the United Kingdom. For additional information, please contact

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