Last Updated : Sep 4, 2023

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Without a uniform visa policy that promotes the admission of lawful tourists into the EU while boosting internal security, the borderless Schengen Area cannot function effectively. Therefore, the EU has developed a uniform visa policy for transit through or intended stays of no more than 90 days in any 180 days in the territory of a Schengen State and transit through international transit areas of Schengen States' airports. The 26 Schengen countries granted 15 million "Schengen visas" in 2019. Certain other countries' citizens are needed to have a visa upon arrival or while in transit.

The most important aspects of visa policy

When visiting the Schengen Area, citizens from various non-EU countries are needed to have a visa. The EU maintains a list of countries whose residents require a visa to cross their external borders and a list of countries whose nationals are exempt. In general, a short-stay visa issued by one of the Schengen States permits the holder to travel for up to 90 days in any 180 days throughout the Schengen States. Visas for stays longer than that are still subject to national regulations.

Bilateral conversations may lead to decisions on visa-free admission to the Schengen Area. They are based on the countries' success in enacting key changes in areas including strengthening the rule of law, combatting organized crime, corruption, and illegal migration, and increasing administrative capacity in border control and document security.

The EU Visa Code is the second component of the unified visa policy. It lays forth the procedures and requirements for obtaining visas for short-term stays and airport transit.

The uniform format for the visa sticker is the third component of the visa policy.