By: Zara Najam
All companies conducting business internationally should be aware of changes implemented by the European Council requiring nationals of certain visa-waived countries, including the Untied States, Canada, and Mexico, to register prior to travelling to certain countries in Europe.
Starting on Jan. 1, 2021, American citizens will have to register online, through the new European Travel Information and Authorization System (E.T.I.A.S.), to enter any of the 26 Schengen-area countries, plus four countries currently in the process of joining the area, regardless of the duration of their visit or the number of countries visited.
What’s the current process?
American citizens traveling to these 26 countries for stays of less than 90 days do not require visas or travel authorization.
Is E.T.I.A.S. a visa?
E.T.I.A.S. registration is not a visa.. Americans will not be required to visit a consulate to file any kind of application, fingerprinting is not required, and less information will be asked than is expected of visa applicants. Applicants will be able to apply online through the ETIAS. After submission, each applicant’s personal information will then be compared against Interpol and EU databases. If there are no matches, ETIAS will be issued automatically. If there is a match, the application must be processed manually within 96 hours. The ETIAS does not provide a right of entry, and border guards make the final decision on admission. Air and sea carriers will also be required to check if passengers have their travel authorization before boarding.
Who will need to register?
The E.T.I.A.S. will be required for citizens of more than 60 countries that currently travel visa-free to the European Union, including the United States, Australia, Canada and Mexico.
What documents does one need to apply for the E.T.I.A.S.?
US citizens will need a valid passport, an email address, and a debit or credit card to register. Authorization will not be tied to any travel plans.
How much will it cost?
7 euros, or about $8 USD
When does it expire?
The E.T.I.A.S. authorization will be valid for three years, unless a passport expires earlier, and allows an unlimited number of entries.
Which countries require registration?
Travel to any of the countries in the Schengen area will require registration. Schengen area is made up of 26 European countries: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Cyprus are currently in the process of joining the Schengen area.
Why the change?
The new requirement is part of the European Union’s effort “to identify any security or irregular migratory risks posed by visa-exempt visitors,” according to the European Commission. The system is meant to improve detection of human trafficking, criminal activity and people who may pose security threats, it said. The commission also said the system would also facilitate border crossings “for the vast majority of travelers who do not pose such risks.”
Please contact Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP at 1-800-VISA-LAW or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org to speak with our top-tier team of immigration attorneys.