Ukrainian nationals will no longer require a visa to travel across the European Schengen zone as of June 11, 2017. Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, announced the decision earlier in June. In practise, this implies that Ukrainian individuals having biometric passports would be able to freely travel to EU-member countries without the need to get a regular visa.
Prior to the lifting of these travel restrictions, Ukrainians faced more severe procedures anytime they went within the European Union, which many saw as unjust or even humiliating. Ukrainian citizens, for example, were obliged to check in at EU embassies and were occasionally requested to leave deposits (e.g., papers or money) to ensure that they would not overstay their visas.
DESTROYING “THE PAPER CURTAIN”
Ukrainians can now remain in Schengen Area nations for a maximum of 90 days during a 180-day period without needing to apply for a regular visa. The visa-free regime permits Ukrainian nationals with biometric passports to enter the Schengen Area as well as several non-EU countries such as Switzerland and Iceland.
However, the United Kingdom and Ireland are still off-limits to Ukrainians. Furthermore, Ukrainian residents wishing to work in the European Union must still get work permits. Ukrainians must still show proof of a return ticket, appropriate lodging, and adequate funds and insurance for their trip.
However, the mood remains upbeat. The evening before the measures went into force, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko applauded the abolition of visas. President Poroshenko announced at the end of a countdown ceremony before the commencement of the visa-free policy that the “final sound of the countdown” will symbolise the “collapse not of the concrete Berlin Wall, but of the paper curtain that has been dividing Ukrainians from the European family for years.”
“We will never return to the Soviet Union because we, as a great and democratic nation, have returned to the family of European nations,” the president went on to say.
Hugues Mingarelli, head of the European Union’s delegation to Ukraine, also hailed the news that Ukrainians will be allowed to “visit to 33 Western European countries without any visa restrictions” at the same event.
Mingarelli said that he hoped the reform would simply be the “first step toward increasing relations” between the EU and Ukraine.