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EU eases travel for Indian passport holders with long-term Schengen visas under 'cascade' regime

The European Commission had adopted specific rules on the issuing of multiple entry visas to Indian nationals amid strengthened relations between India and the EU. Indian nationals can avail long-term, multi-entry visas for two years to countries under Schengen area.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Brussels Published on: April 23, 2024 20:49 IST
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Brussels: The European Union has announced new visa rules to facilitate easier travel for Indian citizens ahead of the summer vacations in the country. The 27-member European bloc has a new 'cascade' visa regime for Indian nationals applying for Schengen (short-stay) visas, which will provide them with long-term visas with multi-year validity, a big change from earlier visa requirements.

The European Commission had adopted specific rules on the issuing of multiple entry visas to Indian nationals on April 18, according to an official statement. Under the newly adopted 'cascade' regime, Indian nationals can now be issued long-term, multi-entry Schengen visas valid for two years after having obtained and lawfully used two visas within the previous three years. 

The two-year visa will normally be followed by a five-year visa if the passport has sufficient validity remaining, as per the laws. During the validity period of these visas, holders enjoy travel rights equivalent to visa-free nationals. The decision comes amid strengthened relations under the India-EU Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility, which seeks comprehensive cooperation on migration policy between the EU and India.

India has emerged as a key partner of the European bloc and both sides are looking to strengthen people-to-people contacts, which explains the changes in the visa regime. Schengen visas allow the holder to travel freely in the Schengen area for short stays of a maximum of 90 days in any 180-day period. The visas are not purpose-bound, but they do not grant the right to work. 

The Schengen area consists of 29 European countries (of which 25 are EU states): Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland and Sweden, along with Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

This comes after the UK announced a 55 per cent hike in the salary requirements of British citizens and residents, including those of Indian heritage, who wish to sponsor their relatives on a family visa. The increase in salary thresholds announced by the government will come into effect from Thursday as part of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's plan to cut down on immigration levels.

Individuals are now required to have a minimum annual salary of GBP 29,000, up from GBP 18,600 for someone to be sponsored to come to the UK on a family visa. By early next year, this will have increased two more times to match the Skilled Worker visa salary threshold of GBP 38,700. The UK Home Office said it marks the final measure in Sunak and Home Secretary James Cleverly's package to reduce legal migration so they don't "burden the taxpayer".

ALSO READ | UK enforces 55 per cent hike in salary requirements for sponsoring family visa to control migration

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