A new implementation date for the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) has recently been announced. The ETIAS visa waiver, which had previously been scheduled for 2021, is now expected to be in operation towards the end of 2022.
The release date has been pushed back by the European authorities to ensure everything is in place for a smooth transition to the new system.
It is expected that by delaying the launch of ETIAS, and by allowing a 6-month grace period, all the necessary adjustments can be made and travelers will be better prepared for the changes to Europe’s visa policy.
ETIAS to Become Mandatory from 2023
To facilitate the introduction of the new visa waiver program, there will be a 6-month grace period during which time ETIAS will not be mandatory.
This transition period will benefit both third-country nationals and the European authorities as this time will be used to fully inform travelers about the new scheme. Once ETIAS is launched, citizens eligible for the visa waiver shall have 6 months in which to become familiarized with the new regulation.
Although ETIAS is not expected to be compulsory at this stage, people will be encouraged to start registering for the visa waiver before heading to Europe so that they are fully prepared when it eventually becomes obligatory.
A second grace period may be introduced if the European Commission considers it beneficial.
How European Travel Will Change from 2022
US citizens can currently enjoy up to 90 days in the Schengen Area without the need to obtain a visa, with just a valid passport required to cross the border. Americans will continue to enjoy visa-free privileges from 2022 however they will need to obtain an ETIAS visa waiver.
ETIAS is being introduced to complement the visa liberalization policy of the EU whilst adding an additional layer of security. Although the current scheme has provided easy access to nations such as France, Spain, and Germany, calls for more safety measures led to the development of ETIAS.
The system has been constantly evolving since the first ETIAS proposal was laid out by the European Commission and is now nearing completion.
Much like ESTA for the US, the visa waiver scheme will allow the authorities to cross-check traveler data against security databases. Potentially dangerous individuals will in this way be prevented from legally gaining access to the Schengen Area.
The large scale IT system is managed by eu-LISA and involves several international information systems. Europol, Interpol, and the Schengen Information System will all play a central role in the identification of people who could pose a risk.
Applying for an ETIAS Visa Waiver from 2022
Once ETIAS does come into effect, US passport holders will be able to apply for ETIAS online. The electronic form will be straightforward, requiring just a few basic personal details such as name, address, and date of birth, in addition to passport data. There will also be a few health and safety-related questions.
It is important to note that the passport used to make the application must be valid for at least 3 months from the date of arrival in Europe.
Once the request is submitted it will be automatically checked against security databases. If nothing is flagged up the approved ETIAS visa waiver will be sent directly to the applicant via email within minutes.
Hits in the system are expected to be rare. If something is flagged up manual processing will take place, each case is analyzed individually and a decision will be made based on the specific circumstances.
Travelers who are deemed a threat will not be granted a visa waiver and will, therefore, be unable to enter the Schengen Area.
Important Information about the ETIAS Visa Waiver
US citizens planning a trip to Europe from 2022 need to be prepared for the introduction of ETIAS and be aware of some of its key features and benefits.
One great advantage of the ETIAS visa waiver for Europe is that it is valid for use across the entire Schengen Area. Once the external Schengen Area border has been crossed permit holders can move freely between nations. This is good news for American tourists who often make the most of a trip to Europe by visiting several different countries.
ETIAS holders can stay for a maximum of 90 days within a 180 day period and the permit is valid for 3 years. It will also be multiple-entry making it possible to leave and re-enter the Schengen Area as necessary during the validity period.
The visa waiver is valid for tourism, transit, and business activities as well as short-term medical treatment.
Susan Noel is an experienced content writer. She is associated with many renowned travel blogs as a guest author where she shares her valuable travel tips and experience with the audience.