Federal Council opens consultation on digital Schengen visas

Bern, 08.12.2023 - In future Schengen visa applications will be digitised and have to be submitted on an EU platform. As a Schengen state, Switzerland aligns itself with this modernisation and must incorporate this new regulation into national law, amending current legislation to do so. The Federal Council opened the consultation on the corresponding draft legislation at its meeting on 8 December.

On 13 November 2023, the EU adopted a new regulation on the submission of applications for short-stay visas (90 days) to enter the Schengen area. Under the regulation, Schengen visa applications will have to be submitted on an electronic EU platform, which has yet to be developed. The visas will be issued in digital form and replace the stickers issued in paper form until now.

Some of the provisions of the new EU regulation must be incorporated into Swiss law before becoming applicable. This requires amendments to the Foreign Nationals and Integration Act (FNIA). The amendments concern, in particular, provisions relating to the future platform, the content of the national visa system and the delegation of new tasks, such as the verification of travel documents, to appointed third parties.

The digital processing of visa applications will harmonise processes, simplify procedures for applicants and foster effective cooperation between the migration authorities of the Schengen states. However, there will be exemptions from using the EU platform, for example in special humanitarian cases or where internet access is difficult. The Federal Council will define these exemptions at ordinance level at a later date.

The consultation on the legislative amendments will run until 22 March 2024. The new European platform is scheduled for roll-out in January 2026, with Switzerland expected to connect to the platform in 2028 at the earliest.

Changes to the visa format

As part of the new submission procedure, the visa format must be redefined so that visas can be issued in digital form. At its meeting on 8 December, the Federal Council therefore also adopted an amendment to the Ordinance on Entry and the Granting of Visas (EGVO), providing for a digital visa in the form of a barcode in addition to a paper visa sticker.

Digitalisation of the visa procedure will apply not only to short-stay Schengen visas, but also to visas for stays exceeding 90 days (‘national visas’). The change will come into force on 1 February 2024.


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Federal Department of Justice and Police
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State Secretariat for Migration
https://www.sem.admin.ch/sem/en/home.html

Last modification 10.06.2024

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