A new set of European Union rules could require U.S. and Canadian citizens to apply for an EU visa in order to visit member countries.
European Union officials may require Americans and Canadians to apply for an EU visa, even for short breaks or business trips. The new tougher line is reportedly due to the fact that both countries still require some EU citizens to apply for visas to visit them, writes Ivana Kottasova for CNN.
Americans and Canadians may have to apply for EU visa
The EU visa waiver program may be suspended because citizens of Poland, Croatia, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania need a visa in order to visit the U.S.. Romanians and Bulgarians also need visas for Canada.
“The objective here is to achieve full visa waiver reciprocity for citizens of all member states and this is a priority for the European Union,” said Mina Andreeva, a spokesperson for the European Commission.
According to U.S. authorities the countries in question do not meet the requirements of its Visa Waiver Program.
“We maintain an open dialogue with each of these countries about the program’s requirements and how each of the five countries is progressing,” a State Department official said.
EU rules mean Commission has to propose reciprocal visa programs
Canadian officials also maintain that its visa policy is not based on reciprocity.
“Rather, Canada must be satisfied that countries meet its criteria for a visa exemption,” said a spokesperson from the department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
EU rules dictate that the European Commission must push for reciprocal visa requirements for citizens of those countries that don’t allow EU citizens to travel without a visa. The time limit for the proposal is two years after EU authorities are notified of the situation.
The two year deadline falls on Tuesday, and the Commission will address the EU visa situation at a meeting next week. If its members agree to implement a change, it would come into effect 4 months later. Its implementation is conditional on the agreement of a majority of EU member states and the European Parliament.
Americans would still be allowed visa-free travel to Ireland and the UK, as both countries opted out of the EU common visa policy. There are 38 countries whose citizens can travel to the U.S. without a visa, including 23 European Union Countries, Australia, Andorra, Norway, Australia, Iceland, San Marino, Singapore, Japan, Chile, Liechtenstein, South Korea, Switzerland, Monaco, Taiwan and New Zealand.