• Friday, July 19, 2024
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No way through: Schengen visa rejection hits 4-yr high 

The number of Nigerians rejected for Schengen visa applications rose to the highest in four years as a result of stricter visa policies and checks by the European Union.

Data from SchengenVisaInfo.eu, a Europe-based independent Schengen visa-related information and news publishing website, shows that the number rose by 9.97 per cent to 42,940 in 2023 from 39,189 in 2022.

Nigeria visa denial costs rise to €3.4m

The firm also revealed that Africa’s most populous nation had the fourth-highest number of rejections. The cost of rejected visas from the country increased to €3.44 million last year from €3.14 million in 2022.

Authors at Schengen. News attributed the higher rejection numbers to the more rigorous visa policies and checks implemented by the Schengen countries to manage migration and security concerns.

“The increase in rejection rates for Nigeria is due to Schengen countries strictly following their visa policies,” they said in an email to BusinessDay.

They added this involves thorough checks, leading to more rejections if applications have incomplete documentation, discrepancies, or concerns about overstays.

The information platform further highlighted that African nationals spent €56.3 million in visa application fees in 2023, representing 43 per cent of all expenses.

Rejection rates in 2023 were especially high for African and Asian countries, which bear 90 per cent of all expenses.

“Visa inequality has very tangible consequences and the world’s poorest pay the price,” Marta Foresti, Founder of LAGO Collective, said.

“You can think of the costs of rejected visas as ‘reverse remittances,’ money flowing from poor to rich countries. We never hear about these costs when discussing aid or migration, it is time to change that,” Foresti said.

The Schengen visa is the most common visa for Europe, and it allows a person to travel to any member of the Schengen Area. The visa, which permits a person to stay up to 90 days, enables its holder to enter, freely travel within, and leave the Schengen zone from any of the Schengen member countries.

The Schengen zone includes the 27 countries that have signed the Schengen agreement, which allows citizens of member countries to travel within the zone freely without passing through passport and border control, according to SchengenVisaInfo.

Rejection seen worsening in 2024

The 27 countries are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy and Latvia.

Others are Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Over the past year, the EU has begun to use visa restrictions as a political tool, employing Article 25a of its 2019 visa code, a provision that allows visa restrictions for countries with low rates of migrant returns.

For instance, in April, the EU Council agreed to impose visa sanctions on Ethiopia, including a ban on obtaining visas for multiple entries into EU countries, while diplomatic and service passport holders will no longer be exempt from visa fees.

EU ministers extended the processing time for visas from 15 days to 45 days, citing Ethiopia’s lack of cooperation in returning its nationals staying illegally in EU countries.

The rejection rate is expected to rise in 2024, as the EU visa application fee for adults increased from €80 to €90 on June 11. This could help European countries earn millions of euros more from the high rejection rates of visa applications by African visitors.

105,926 Nigerians applied, and they spent €8.47 million on Schengen visa applications in 2023, according to Schengen.News.

“With the new fee structure, if the same numbers of people apply, the total expenditure will rise to €9.53million marking an increase of €1.06 million.”