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#ETIAS visa waiver postponed until 2022

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The European Commission recently announced that the ETIAS visa waiver is delayed until 2022. The European Travel Information and Authorization System, which has been under development since 2016, had previously been scheduled for 2020, and later 2021, writes Dorothy Jones.

The program is now expected to be operational towards the end of 2022. Authorities have stated that the extra time is being taken to ensure that everyone involved is able to make all the necessary adjustments before the launch date.

By waiting until 2022 to release ETIAS, and by allowing for a grace period, it is expected that the transition to the new European system will be smooth and efficient.

When will ETIAS become mandatory?

Although the ETIAS visa waiver is to be launched towards the end of 2022, there are plans to allow a 6-month grace period for third-country nationals.

This initial implementation stage is considered a necessary step to allow for European authorities to provide travellers with all the information and guidance they need. Citizens eligible for the visa waiver will have a chance to become familiarized with the new requirements during the transition.

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Foreign nationals will be advised of the changes at Schengen borders during the grace period so that they are fully informed on their next trip. Relevant advice can also be sought at embassies and consulates throughout Europe.

During the initial 6 months following the roll-out of the system, ETIAS will be available to people from current visa-waiver countries traveling to the Schengen Area, but it is not expected to become mandatory at this stage.

All those able to do so will be encouraged to register with ETIAS as soon as it is launched, however, to begin with it is likely to be entirely optional.

European Commission sources have not ruled out the possibility of a second grace period if required once the first 6 months have elapsed.

A brief timeline of the development of ETIAS

ETIAS was first announced in September 2016 by the then President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Junker. Since then it has been undergoing constant development.

The large scale IT-system, which is managed by EU-LISA, has grown to include security databases including Europol, Interpol, and Eurodac.

This brief timeline highlights the key events leading up to the present day, helping to better understand the evolution of the ETIAS visa-waiver.

  • November 16th, 2016: First ETIAS proposal by the European Commission
  • October 19th, 2017: The Civil Liberties Committee votes in favour of the mandate
  • June 5th, 2018: ETIAS regulation is passed and the final agreement is given to the system
  • September 5th, 2018: regulation to establish ETIAS adopted by the European Council
  • April 16th, 2019: Commission adopts two Security Union legislative initiatives

The next step in the process is to launch the European Travel Information and Authorization System and, following the 6-month grace period, make it mandatory for current visa-exempt nationals.

How will ETIAS change European travel from 2022?

Following the 6-month grace period, ETIAS will become an obligatory entry requirement of the Schengen Area.

Currently, citizens of 62 non-European countries do not need a visa to travel to Schengen Area countries. This visa liberalization policy grants visitors stays of up to 90 days using just a passport.

This, however, is set to change once the ETIAS implementation period expires.

From 2022, ETIAS will reinforce EU border security, by automatically pre-screening non-Europeans entering the Schengen Area. The system will cross-check passenger data against several international security databases, therefore preventing potentially dangerous individuals from entering the 26 Schengen nations legally.

What will travellers need to do once ETIAS is launched?

Once ETIAS comes into effect, eligible third-country citizens will need to apply for the visa waiver prior to departure. Applicants will be required to fill in an online form with a few personal details and passport data. There will also be some questions relating to health and security.

Provided nothing is flagged up across the various security databases, the ETIAS visa waiver will be approved within minutes and linked electronically to the applicant’s passport.

From 2023 onwards an approved ETIAS will be needed to enter European Schengen Area countries for leisure and tourism, business, transit purposes as well as short-term medical treatment.

Dorothy Jones is an experienced content writer. She is associated with many renowned travel blogs as a guest author where she shares her valuable travel tips and experience with the audience.

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