Expect stricter requirements when applying for a Schengen visa: report

South Africans travelling to certain European Union (EU) countries may now face stricter requirements when applying for a Schengen visa.

This is according to immigration lawyer Gary Eisenberg who was speaking to Cape Talk’s Kieno Kammies after a number of listeners complained of extra requirements when applying for a Schengen visa to visit Spain.

Some of ways that these requirements have been tightened include an increased turn-a-round time, while certain documents need authorisation by the Spanish police, Eisenberg said.

The immigration expert said that additional requirements have been introduced after BLS International Services replaced VFS Visa & Permit Facilitation Centre as a new visa facilitation company for the country.

He said that BLS has its own proprietary standards when it came to applications, meaning that Spain had tightened its requirements when it comes to offering South Africans a Schengen visa.

When asked how other countries within the Schengen block were affected, Eisenberg said that there were no specific changes but rather an overall tightening of documentation from ‘high-risk’ countries such as South Africa.

“I think countries are becoming far more careful on documentation emanating from countries like South Africa which are seen as high risk for fraudulent documentation, and this is why Britain has imposed visa restrictions on South Africa, ” he said.

“We see on a daily basis foreigners living in South Africa with fraudulent visas and fraudulent identity documents, and this seems to be common place.

“So governments I think, are united in their drive to screen documents more carefully,” he said.

The 26 Schengen countries are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Visa requirements

While the Department of Home Affairs confirmed to BusinessTech at the end of January 2018 that visa-free travel to the EU was still being discussed for South Africa, the majority of European Union countries will not allow South Africans to enter without a Schengen or similar visa.

According to Arton Capital’s latest Passport Index, South Africans can currently apply for visa-free travel to 95 countries.

However, only Ireland forms part of mainland Europe, while several other countries such as Russia, Kosovo, Georgia and Armenia are given status as being part of “Eurasia”.

You can find the complete of list of countries for which South Africans do not require a visa, or only require a visa on entry below:

Visa-free entry
Angola Georgia Malaysia Singapore
Antigua & Barbuda Grenada Mauritius South Korea
Argentina Guatemala Micronesia St Vincent and the Grenadines
Bahamas Guyana Mozambique Swaziland
Barbados Haiti Namibia Tanzania
Belize Honduras Nicaragua Thailand
Benin Hong Kong Palestinian territories Trinidad and Tobago
Botswana Indonesia Panama Tunisia
Brazil Ireland Paraguay Uruguay
Chile Israel Peru Vanuatu
Costa Rica Jamaica Philippines Venezuela
Dominica Kenya Qatar Zambia
Dominican Republic Kosovo Russian Federation Zimbabwe
Ecuador Lesotho Saint Kitts and Nevis
El Salvador Macao Saint Lucia
Fiji Malawi Senegal
Visa on arrival
Armenia Ghana Marshall Islands Tajikistan
Bolivia Guinea-Bissau Mauritania Timor-Leste
Cambodia Iran Nepal Togo
Cape Verde Jordan Oman Turkey
Comoros Kyrgyzstan Palau Tuvalu
Djibouti Laos Rwanda Uganda
Ethiopia Madagascar Samoa
Gabon Maldives Seychelles (visitor’s permit)
Electronic Travel Authority (eTA) entry
Ivory Coast India Sri Lanka

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Expect stricter requirements when applying for a Schengen visa: report