HAVANA TIMES – As of February 2020, Cuban citizens will need to pay a fee of €80 instead of €60 as they did so far, when applying for a Schengen Visa from Cuba.
Children too, will have to pay €40 instead of €35, as it is currently.
Cubans will be subject to several changes in terms of visa application procedures, rules and benefits, starting from Monday, February 2, 2020.
Due to the implementation of the Updated Schengen Visa Code, adopted by the EU Council in June 2019, all representative missions of the Schengen Countries located abroad are obliged to apply the new rules, including the ones in Cuba.
“Since Regulation (EU) 2019/1155 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 amending Regulation (EC) No 810/2009 establishing a Community Code on Visas (Visa Code) is binding in its entirety, and is directly applicable in all EU Member States in accordance with the Treaties, all Schengen countries, including Lithuania, will apply it from 2 February 2020,” an official from the Information Monitoring and Media Division of Lithuania explained for schengenvisainfo.com.
The new rules also permit Cuban citizens to submit an application up to six months in advance of their trip, instead of three as it is now, and foresee a harmonized approach to the issuing of multiple entry visas with lengthier validity to regular travelers with a positive visa history.
According to SchengenVisaInfo.com, Member States that are not represented in Cuba in terms of visa admission, are now obliged to cooperate with external service providers, in order to facilitate visa application for travelers.
The external service providers are allowed to charge a service fee, which cannot be higher than the visa fee. This means Cubans applying at an external visa service provider may have to pay up to €160 per visa application, if the external service providers set the maximum service fee permitted, which is €80.
In addition, the updated Visa Code introduces a mechanism that assesses whether the visa fees should change, every three years. Another mechanism that will use visa processing as leverage will be introduced, in a bid to improve cooperation with third countries on readmission.
According to Gent Ukëhajdaraj from SchengenVisaInfo.com, due to this mechanism the fees may increase even to €160, if the EU authorities see it necessary.
“A visa fee of €120 or €160 will apply to non-cooperative third-countries, in cases when the EU Commission considers that action is needed in order to improve the level of cooperation of the third country concerned and the Union’s overall relations with that third country,” Ukëhajdaraj explains, adding that this provision shall not apply to children under 12 years old.
The mechanism may also shorten visa validity and introduce prolonged visa processing periods.
In 2018, Schengen embassies and consulates in Cuba processed 50,179 visa applications, 7,070 of which were rejected at a rejection rate of 14.1%.
Spain was the top favorite country for visa submission, as 18,094 of the applications submitted in Cuba were for Schengen visas to Spain, followed by Italy with 13,280 and France with 6,276 applications.
In terms of expenditures, in 2018, Cuban citizens spent €3,010,740 in visa applications to Europe, €424,200 of which money was spent by applicants who had their visas rejected.