On their 11 May plenary, the European Parliament finally approved the Visa Directive for entry of third-country nationals for the purpose of research or study into the EU. For many years, EFIL, with the key help and support of the European Youth Forum, have been advocating for the revision of this directive in order for long-term pupil and volunteer exchange in the EU to be more accessible for young people coming from third-countries.

The Visa Directive agreed in Parliament yesterday is one step towards this, though the provisions for volunteers and pupils are not binding. EFIL and the European Youth Forum urge EU Member States to ensure that they implement these optional provision for volunteers and pupils and national level advocacy efforts will now start once the directive is published in the Official Journal.

However, EFIL welcomes the step towards more accessible opportunities for exchange and intercultural learning which the directive provides to other target groups, such as university students, researchers, interns and EVS volunteers. In fact the Directive will make it easier for students and researchers to move within the EU during their stay. Under the new rules, they will have to notify only the member state to which they are moving, for example to do a one-semester exchange, instead of having to submit a new visa application as is the case today. Furthermore, students and researchers will have the right to stay at least nine months after finishing their studies or research in order to look for a job or to set up a business, which should also ensure that Europe benefits from their skills.

The new directive also has provisions for interns and volunteers under the European Volunteer Scheme (EVS), who will benefit from uniform conditions to enter Europe and increased protection once there.

While one advocacy process related to visas has reached its end, at least at European level, another one still develops. In fact, the process of revision of the Visa code (3 months Schengen visa)  goes on: the European Parliament’s Report on the Commission’s proposal was agreed in one of the last LIBE Committees.The final report will be published soon and then the negotiations between the three institutions, Commission, Council and Parliament, will start.

For more information: elisa.briga@afs.org