SHARE
COPY LINK

TRAVEL

EU mulls visas for Canadian tourists

Speaking for the European Union presidency, Swedish migration minister Tobias Billström said on Wednesday that the EU supported requiring visas for Canadians travelling to the EU in response to Canada’s decision to impose visa restrictions on Czech nationals.

“As the presidency of the EU, we are in favour of this reciprocity,” Swedish Migration and Asylum Policy Minister Tobias Billström told AFP.

“But it’s up to the Commission to handle the proposal, because the Commission is responsible for the reciprocity mechanism,” he added.

Canada imposed visas on Czechs to stave off what it said was a steady influx of Roma asylum applicants from the former communist country.

The Czech government reacted to Canada’s decision on Tuesday by introducing visas for Canadian diplomats and recalling its ambassador in Canada for consultations, but it cannot impose visas on all Canadians under EU laws.

Czech authorities were also annoyed that the European Commission did not appear to be in any rush to impose visa requirements on Canadian nationals during the summer holidays.

Eurosceptic Czech President Vaclav Klaus on Wednesday chided the EU over reducing the options of retaliating against Canada for imposing visas on Czechs.

“As you well know, Canada can decide and the Czech Republic cannot. It’s Brussels that has to decide for us,” he added.

At the European parliament in Strasbourg, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso expressed regret about Canada’s decision to re-introduce visas for Czech nationals.

The Canadian move, which also affected Mexico, is a bid to crack down on an explosion in the number of fraudulent refugee claims.

“We’ll do all necessary efforts to restore the visa free travel,” he told lawmakers.

“The Commission will examine the situation carefully and report on this” in a visa reciprocity report due out in September this year, he said.

He said Czech, Canadian and Commission officials had met already Tuesday in Brussels to discuss the matter.

Billström and Swedish Justice Minister Beatrice Ask will on Thursday and Friday host an informal meeting of EU justice and home affairs ministers in Stockholm.

A solidarity clause within the EU allows all member states to impose visas on Canadian citizens who want to travel to Europe. But the procedure is lengthy, not automatic.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

WORK PERMITS

What are my rights while I wait for my Swedish residence permit to be extended?

Many foreigners living in Sweden need to have a residence permit to live in the country legally. Permits are issued for two years at a time and can be renewed 30 days before expiry, at the earliest. But with waiting times exceeding 8 months for many applicants, just what are your rights while you wait to hear back?

What are my rights while I wait for my Swedish residence permit to be extended?

Can I keep working in Sweden?

It depends. If you have a residence permit which allows you to work in Sweden, have held that residence permit for at least six months and apply for an extension before your old permit expires, you still have the right to work in Sweden while you wait for the Migration Agency to make a decision on your permit application.

You can apply for a new residence permit 30 days before your old permit expires, at the earliest, and you can’t get a new residence permit before your old one has run out.

Can I leave Sweden?

Technically you can, but it might not be a good idea. This is due to the fact that if you leave Sweden after your residence permit has expired, it can be difficult to enter Sweden again before your new permit is granted, even if you can prove that you’ve applied for a new one.

In the worst-case scenario, you could be denied entry to Sweden at the border and forced to wait in another country until your new residence permit is granted. 

If you find yourself in this situation, you can, in some cases, apply for a national visa allowing you to re-enter Sweden. These are only granted under exceptional circumstances, and must be applied for at a Swedish embassy or general consulate in the country you are staying in. If you are not granted a national visa to re-enter Sweden, you can’t appeal the decision, meaning you’ll have to wait until your residence permit is approved before you can re-enter Sweden.

The Migration Agency writes on its website that you should only leave Sweden while your application is being processed “in exceptional cases, and if you really have to”.

It lists some examples of exceptional cases as “sudden illness, death in the family or important work-related assignments”, adding that you may need to provide proof of your reason for travelling to the embassy when you apply for a national visa to re-enter Sweden.

What if I come from a visa-free country?

If you come from a visa-free country, you are able to re-enter Sweden without needing a visa if you have a valid residence permit or are waiting for your residence permit to be extended.

According to the Migration Agency, “if an individual has submitted their extension application in time (before the earlier permit ran out), they also have the right to live and work in Sweden until a decision is made on the application”.

It is important that you are able document this in some way, as visa-free non-EU citizens entering Schengen are only allowed to stay in the bloc for 90 days out of every 180 before they require a visa, unless they can document that they have the right to live in a Schengen country, for example via a residence permit or proof that they have applied for an extension to their residence permit.

If you are a member of this group and you stay in Schengen for longer than 90 days without a visa, a valid residence permit, or proof that you are waiting for an extension on your residence permit, you could be labelled an “overstayer”, which can cause issues entering other countries, as well as applying for a visa or residence permit in the future.

The Migration Agency told The Local that “a visa-free person’s allowance of visa-free days is not used up during the period in which the extension permit is being processed”.

“However, an extension application usually requires the individual to be located in Sweden,” the Agency wrote. “Travelling abroad can, in some cases, have an effect on the decision whether to extend a residence permit or not, in a way which is negative for the applicant, but this decision is made on an individual case basis (it’s not possible to say a general rule).”

“The right to travel into the Schengen area for short visits is not affected, as long as the person still has visa-free days left.”

Does this apply to me if I have a permanent residence permit?

No. This only applies to people in Sweden holding temporary residence permits. If you have a permanent residence permit and your residence permit card (uppehållstillståndskort or UT-kort) expires, you just need to book an appointment at the Migration Agency to have your picture and fingerprints taken for a new card.

How long is the processing time for residence permit renewals?

It varies. For people renewing a residence permit to live with someone in Sweden, for example, the Migration Agency states that 75 percent of recent cases received an answer within eight months.

For work permit extensions, it varies. In some branches, 75 percent of applicants received a response after 17 months, others only had to wait five.

This means that some people waiting to extend their residence permits could be discouraged from leaving Sweden for almost a year and a half, unless they are facing “exceptional circumstances”.

You can see how long it is likely to take in your case here.

SHOW COMMENTS