When I received an invitation to attend the media gathering of one European youth organisation in Brussels, Belgium, as their future contributor, I had only two weeks to pack. Packing is always a good idea; however, first of all in Georgia you have to overcome the bureaucratic processAi??to receive a Schengen Visa.
So, I took two passport photos, booked round-trip tickets, made photocopies of the passport with all the previous visas, purchased a travel medical insurance, printed out the invitation letter from the host organisation and a hotel reservation and filled the visa application form. The fee for a visa is now 35 euros; however, journalists are exempt from payment.
It usually takes from five to ten calendar days for an embassy or a consulate to issue or reject the visa application. I hoped that I would receive my visa at least a day prior to my departure; however, I did not receive it in time and I missed the opportunity.
This story is far from ordinary for many young people in Georgia, a small country north of Turkey. Long bureaucratic procedures ruin our plans to travel to Europe, see other parts of the world, engage in volunteer activities and gain knowledge and experience in the field, which is so important for our future success.
Living in the South Caucasus, in the European neighbourhood, young Georgians know that European capitals have a lot to offer. Different cultures, traditions and social conditions; principles of equality and the fight against stereotypes, freedom of expressionai??i?? these are just some reasons that make us want to go to Europe.
“Visa application is a stressful process”
Nini Japaridze has applied for a Schengen visa many times, in particular to participate in youth projects, internships, and volunteer programs.
ai???Of course visa application procedures are very stressful, especially when you have a low income,ai??? she says, adding that the visa authorities check every detail to make sure that applicants possess the financial means to maintain themselves during their stay in the Schengen area.
All those ai???annoyingai??i?? questions are mainly caused by the increasing trend of illegal immigration to certain European countries. Nini understands that states try to prevent this from happening; however, very often her own plans are hindered as a result.
ai???I always ask the host organisations to send me the officially signed invitation form with detailed description of the program, financial support and accommodation to make clear that they cover all the travel expenses. Otherwise, the embassies will demand additional documents like a hotel reservation, several hundreds of euros in the bank account, and so on.ai???
Nini recalls how her friendai??i??s visa application to France was rejected in 2013 as it was his first journey, while Nini, who had previously received several Schengen visas, was allowed to go without any complications, even though they were both applying to participate in the same program.
ai???The embassy never explained the reason for the rejection but my friend simply did not have either any registered property or sufficient amount of money in the bank account,ai??? explains Nini.
Visa denied for a language course
Mari Khanjaliashvili was refused a visa to Germany in 2010. Even though she had been in Germany previously for short trips, this time she was going on a one-year language course. Because she had three sisters living in Germany, the embassy thought she might be staying with her family and thus did not give her a visa.
ai???After that I did not even dare to apply for five years. It was not until 2015 that I finally applied and visited my sisters twice for short periods of time,ai??? Mari said.
Marekh Pkhoveli works at one of the ministries in Georgia. Once she almost missed a business conference in one of the European capitals due to long visa procedures. She says visa liberalisation would be an important step forward for her to benefit from all the opportunities to travel.
ai???European culture is very interesting for me. This is why Europe would always be my best destination. Moreover, I would like to continue my studies at one of the European universities because historically, Georgian public figures used to study in Europe,ai??? Marekh explains.
New visa liberalisation stendra priligy.
After the EU-Georgia Visa Liberalisation Dialogue started in June 2012, Georgia has now received a positive progress reportAi?? on the implementation of its Visa Liberalisation Action Plan (VLAP) from the European Commission, meaning that in early 2016 the European Union (EU) would propose a legislative amendment to let Georgian citizens travel to the Schengen zone without a visa.
A Schengen visa, required for a visit to one or more of its member states, is valid in all Schengen States for a stay of up to 90 days within a six-month period. Short-stay visas allow the holder to transit through or remain in a certain countryai??i??s territory and all other Schengen States for a maximum period of three months (90 days) within a period of six months (180 days) from the entry date into the Schengen Area according to purpose and destination: Auto tour, Business visa, Private visit, Tourist visa, Transit visa, Seaman visa, Cultural, Scientific or Sport activities viagra cialis sample free usa. , order Eriacta online cheap, zithromax online. Medical visa, etc.
After the VLAP will enter into force, Georgian citizens will have the opportunity to travel across the Schengen zone, its four aspirant countries (Bulgaria, Cyprus, Romania and Croatia) and four non-member states (Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) without visa requirements for up to 90 days within 180 days.
After staying in the Schengen zone for 90 days, however, Georgian citizens have to leave the area at least for the following 90 days before returning (180 days per year in total) with a biometric passport, clearly defined purpose of visit, return ticket, invitation letter, hotel reservation, travel insurance and a document proving financial sufficiency.
So, now as the year has just started, I am looking forward to planning my next trip with my friends. We just need a green light for entrance.
Europe, greet us!
Header image: Jonathan Cohen (Creative Commons)