The European Commission has proposed a reform of the EU’s common visa policy to adapt it to new security challenges, migration-related challenges and new opportunities offered by technological advances. Thanks to the proposed amendments to the Visa Code, legal travelers will be able to obtain visas for Europe more easily, which will facilitate tourism, trade and business, while increasing security and reducing the risks of illegal migration.Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos he stressed that millions of passengers visit the EU every year and improve its tourism sector. “With the reforms we are proposing today, legal travelers will be able to obtain visas more easily and quickly, and enhanced security standards will more effectively detect and stop those who are not. Thanks to the new rules, our common visa policy will be able to contribute to better cooperation with non-EU countries on the return of illegal migrants.”, he explained.The proposed update seeks to modernize and simplify common EU visa rules, facilitate the visa process for both legal travelers and Member States, while strengthening security standards for the visa process.Faster and more flexible procedures: the deadline for deciding on visa applications will be shortened from 15 to 10 days. Passengers will be able to submit applications up to six months before the planned trip, instead of the current three months, and fill them out and sign them electronically.Multiple entry visas with a longer validity period: Multiple-entry visas will be subject to harmonized rules in order to more effectively prevent “visa trade” and reduce costs and save time for Member States and frequent travelers. Such multiple-entry visas will be issued to verified and regular travelers with whom there is positive previous experience regarding the issuance of visas over a period that will gradually increase from one to five years. It will be thoroughly and regularly checked whether passengers meet the conditions for entry.Short-stay visas at the external borders: in order to facilitate short – stay tourist stays, Member States will be allowed to issue single – entry visas directly at the external land and sea borders under a short – term and seasonal program and under strict conditions. These visas shall be valid for a maximum stay of seven days exclusively in the issuing Member State.Additional resources to increase security: given the significant increase in processing costs over the years, the visa fee, which has not increased since 2006, will increase slightly (from EUR 60 to EUR 80). This increase will allow Member States to retain an adequate number of consular officers worldwide to tighten security checks and upgrade IT equipment and software, and will not be an obstacle for visa applicants.The tourism sector, which accounts for 10% of EU GDP, plays a key role in the European economy. Although EU Member States are among the world’s leading tourist destinations, lengthy and complex procedures can deter tourists from traveling to Europe, diverting investment and consumption to other countries and negatively affecting the EU economy. At the same time, a balance needs to be struck between the benefits of visa travel and better migration, security and border management in order to adequately overcome current and future security and migration challenges.Today’s amendments to the Visa Code are the first step in the reform of the EU’s common visa policy, and a proposal to update the Visa Information System (VIS) will be presented in the spring, the European Commission said.