- The EU is working on a visa exemption for citizens of Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and more.
- The exemption would add these GCC countries to the more than 50 nationalities already eligible for the ETIAS visa waiver.
The EU Commission has suggested let nationals of Qatar, Kuwait, and Oman travel to the EU without a visa. The yet-to-be-approved proposal would add them to the EU’s list of visa-exempt nations, making them eligible for ETIAS in November 2023.
The plan is based on an evaluation of several factors, including migration, economic security, public policy and security, and ties between the EU and the GCC members.
This new regulation, which will apply to ETIAS, will make it easier and faster for anybody holding a Qatari, Kuwaiti, or Omani passport to visit EU nations.
Josep Borrell, the EU’s High Representative/Vice President, stated:
“Our proposal to waive visa restrictions for Qatari and Kuwaiti nationals is a first step toward making travel to the European Union simpler for citizens from the whole region.”
A second request to include Oman in the visa waiver scheme has also been submitted. The EU intends to strengthen diplomatic connections with the Gulf Cooperation Council members through the visa exemption procedure (GCC).
In a recent interview with the Arabic international newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, EU Ambassador Patrick Simonnet described how the country’s future visa exemption may assist boost collaboration between the two areas.
GCC nationals travelling to Europe would still be subject to other entry rules, including any EU COVID-19 limitations.
WHAT WOULD AN EU VISA EXEMPTION MEAN FOR CITIZENS OF GCC COUNTRIES?
If the proposed ideas are adopted, GCC nationals will be able to visit the EU without requiring a visa. This implies that these visitors will not need to apply for a visa before to their journey and will be able to travel visa-free to all EU Member States, including the four Schengen related states of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.
Visa exemptions make it easier for non-EU citizens to visit the EU, increasing migration and saving time for both border control and travellers. There are now over 50 countries that are visa-free.
The EU’s visa-free policy permits qualified people to enter the EU for up to 90 days in a 180-day period for business, tourist, and family trips. Nationals of Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, and other countries will profit from this regulation if they gain visa-free entry.
WILL GCC CITIZENS NEED TO APPLY FOR ETIAS?
Citizens of both Qatar and Kuwait will be eligible for ETIAS — the European Travel Information and Authorization System — if they become visa-exempt.
This new visa waiver programme will allow qualified travellers to visit the EU without a visa while also safeguarding and boosting border security. Qatari and Kuwaiti passport holders will be included to the list of ETIAS nations under the new plan.
HOW CAN CITIZENS OF GCC COUNTRIES APPLY FOR ETIAS?
If Qatar and Kuwait are granted ETIAS travel authorization, they will be able to apply conveniently online in time for their journey to Europe.
The ETIAS application procedure consists of filling out the easy ETIAS online form. The travel permit will be electronically connected to the Qatari or Kuwaiti passport once the tourist has registered and their request has been granted.
Citizens of both nations will be allowed to travel to the EU with only their passports, which will be scanned at immigration to establish their identity and authenticate their ETIAS.
Due to the fact that the ETIAS visa waiver is entirely electronic, only Qatari and Kuwaiti citizens with biometric passports (ePassports) will be able to apply. Both countries currently provide their citizens with biometric passports.
WHAT ARE THE NEXT STEPS FOR THE QATAR AND KUWAIT VISA EXEMPTION?
The decision to give visa exemption to nationals of Qatar and Kuwait now rests with the European Parliament and Council.
If the plan is accepted, the European Union will then work with both nations to establish visa waiver accords. This is to guarantee that EU citizens have complete visa reciprocity while visiting Qatar and Kuwait. Margaritis Schinas, vice-president of the European Commission, has previously met with Qatar’s Ambassador, Abdulaziz bin Ahmed Al Malki, to ratify the plan.
According to a news statement issued by the Qatari Foreign Ministry, this conference marks the “culmination of all stakeholders in the country’s efforts to go forward with the file of exempting people of the State of Qatar from the Schengen Visa.”
WILL OMANI CITIZENS GET VISA EXEMPTION FOR SCHENGEN?
Along with Kuwait and Qatar, the EU has met with representatives from the Sultanate of Oman. Several rounds of political meetings have now taken place to consider Oman’s participation in the Schengen visa waiver scheme.
The sessions have included discussions about the steps Oman must take to allow its nationals visa-free travel into the Schengen Area.
They have also sought to boost the EU’s diplomatic ties with Oman. According to a statement issued by Oman’s Foreign Ministry:
“The session focused on a review of bilateral relations between the Sultanate of Oman and the European Union, as well as methods to strengthen and grow them to serve the mutual interests of both parties:”
The conversations appear to have been fruitful, and it appears likely that Oman, along with Kuwait and Qatar, will be included in the negotiations for visa-free travel to Europe.
WILL OTHER NATIONS BE ADDED TO THE EU VISA EXEMPTION LIST?
The decision to examine include Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Oman in the EU’s visa-free regime is part of a larger proposal to include all Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations in the visa-free regime.
Josep Borrell, EU High Representative/Vice President, stated:
“The ultimate goal is to create regional coherence and, eventually, visa-free travel for all Gulf Cooperation Council nations.” This proposal, along with our future Joint Communication on the Gulf, would deepen the overall collaboration and cooperation between the EU and the Gulf Cooperation Council.”
Eventually, all GCC nations would be eligible for ETIAS, allowing all qualified people to travel visa-free.