A major reason that so many wealthy individuals apply for citizenship by investment (CBI) in Caribbean and South Pacific countries is to gain unrestricted access to the Schengen Zone without having to apply to any of the European programs, which can be more expensive and time-consuming.
Since there are so many people who can travel freely through the Schengen Zone without a visa, ETIAS is being implemented for better management of who is entering the EU and Schengen Zone borders. This is mostly due to recent security concerns with terrorism and the migrant crises – with the EU declaring its goal to make travelling within its borders a more secure experience for all.
In this article, we look at how the new ETIAS authorisation affects MENA citizens who want to apply for Caribbean and Vanuatu citizenship by investment.
What is ETIAS?
The European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) is a completely electronic system created to keep better track of foreign nationals who do not need a visa to enter the Schengen Zone – i.e., those who hold passports from places like Vanuatu, St. Kitts and Nevis, Grenada etc.
The legal procedures to implement ETIAS began in 2016, but the system will only officially launch in January 2022. Although it won’t be a mandatory procedure at the start, applying for ETIAS will be obligatory for all non-EU nationals from January 2023 onwards.
Applicants applying to ETIAS will undergo a detailed security check to determine whether or not they can be allowed to enter any Schengen Area country. This travel authorisation system will ensure that those entering the EU and Schengen Zone do not pose a security threat. The system works by gathering, keeping track of and updating necessary information regarding visitors to determine whether it is safe to host them.
Why is it being implemented?
The main reason ETIAS is being introduced is to increase security in the EU and Schengen Zone and to ensure that citizens, residents and travellers are kept safe when in any of the member countries.
The role of ETIAS is to detect if a person who is planning to travel to Europe is a threat in any way to the security of the Schengen countries, as well as decrease security concerns through its information and data gathering systems. Those who pose a risk or threat will be denied entry and any issues that might have arisen out of the person entering the region will have been avoided.
In short, the implementation of the ETIAS not only provides better security for citizens of the EU and Schengen Zone but provides just as much protection and safety for non-EU travellers who are visiting Europe. This news is especially beneficial for applicants to Citizenship by Investment programs as it makes obtaining a second citizenship and passport that much more appealing by ensuring that they are kept safe and secure at all times when travelling in the Schengen Area.
How does it benefit travellers visiting Europe?
ETIAS will not only beef up security but will also assist the EU, Schengen countries and all travellers by:
- Reducing the number of procedures and application times
- Improving the management of EU country borders
- Assisting in detecting and decreasing crime and terrorism
- Impeding irregular migration
- Reinforcing the visa liberalisation policy of the EU
Put simply, the ETIAS is there to make travelling to the EU less of a hassle and a much safer experience for all.
Who will need ETIAS?
Non-EU citizens of countries who can enter the EU and Schengen Zone visa-free will need to apply for ETIAS.
Currently, 62 countries will need to get the ETIAS authorisation, with more nations to be added as time goes by.
You will need to apply for ETIAS if you hold a passport from the following countries:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- St. Kitts and Nevis
- St. Lucia
- United Arab Emirates (UAE)
How will ETIAS work?
The ETIAS system is designed to be simple to use and have shorter processing to save applicants’ time. The procedure is as follows:
- Step 1: Visa-exempt non-EU citizens will need to fill out the ETIAS online application which should take no more than 10 minutes at most to complete.
- Step 2: A fee will then need to be paid for all applicants between the ages of 18 and 70. Once payment is received, the ETIAS application will automatically be introduced.
- Step 3: Automatic application processing will begin where each applicant’s identity, travel document and the answers they provided in their application will be checked against databases, like EUROPOL DATA and Interpol, as well as the ETIAS screening rules and watchlist. If the automated application processing gets a hit on any applicant, the application will undergo manual processing by the staff of the ETIAS Central Unit and ETIAS National Units.
- Step 4: The applicants will then receive a response. If approved, they will receive valid travel authorisation which is valid for 3 years or until the applicants’ travel document expires (whichever comes first). Most applicants will receive a response within minutes. If the application is denied, applicants will receive justification of the refusal, as well as information on the national authority processing and decision on the application. The decision has to be taken within four weeks, and in case of refusal, applicants have the right to appeal.
- Step 5: Before boarding any form of travel carrier (whether bus, ship or aeroplane), all visitors will be checked for valid travel authorisation.
- Step 6: Finally, once travellers reach the Schengen Area border crossing point, they will have their Entry/Exit System (EES) and ETIAS authorisation checked. Here, the border guard will give the final decision whether someone is allowed or refused entry based on the information provided.
How much will it cost?
Fortunately, the ETIAS charges an affordable fee of only EUR 7 per application. This amount is only valid for adults over the age of 18, as anyone under 18 will not have to pay any fees.
How long is the ETIAS valid?
The ETIAS is valid for 3 years from the date of approval or until the travel document provided expires (whichever comes first).
What reasons will cause an ETIAS application to be denied?
An ETIAS application can be denied for the following reasons:
- Applying with a travel document that is reported as lost, stolen, misappropriated or invalidated in the Schengen Information System (SIS II).
- The applicant poses a security risk for the citizens and travellers in the Schengen Area.
- The applicant poses an illegal immigration risk.
- The applicant poses a high epidemic risk.
- There is an existing alert in SIS out on the applicant to refuse entry and stay.
- The applicant fails to reply to a request to provide extra information or documentation within a given deadline.
- The applicant fails to attend an extra interview when required.
Can you enter all EU countries with ETIAS?
No, there are countries in the EU that are not part of the Schengen Zone. Therefore, you cannot enter those countries with the ETIAS authorisation.
You may only visit countries in the Schengen Zone for 90 days, and you must enter through the country you stated first in your application. For example, if you plan to travel through Germany, Belgium and Austria, and the first country listed on your application is Germany, then you must enter Germany first before visiting Belgium and Austria.
Will you need ETIAS if you have a Schengen Visa?
No, you will not need an ETIAS authorisation if you have a Schengen Visa. When your visa expires, you can apply for the ETIAS if you are eligible.
What is the difference between ETIAS and a Schengen Visa?
The ETIAS process is automated and centralised across the Schengen Area, while the Schengen Visa is processed on a case-by-case basis by the officials of each Member State.
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The introduction of the ETIAS benefits everyone involved – offering better security, safer travel and faster processes. Therefore, MENA citizens who currently hold or would like to apply for the Caribbean, Vanuatuan or Montenegrin citizenship by investment have nothing to worry about as everything will remain the same for the most part. In fact, existing systems will only be improved upon, providing a win-win situation for all involved.
And always remember, when applying for any Citizenship by Investment program, be sure to render the services of an accredited and recognised advisor, like Savory & Partners.
When choosing us as your partner on this journey, you can be assured that you are in safe and capable hands. Savory & Partners is a long-standing and well-respected authorized agent that specializes in helping high-net-worth individuals secure citizenship through investment for themselves and their dependents.
Our level of expertise and competence combined with our commitment to serving our clients with the highest level of professionalism and transparency has led us to aid over 1,100 families obtain a second passport with a 100% success rate.
If you would like to apply to a Citizenship by Investment Program or would like to learn more, get in contact with us today for a free online consultation and one of our skilled agents will happily aid you in your enquiry.
We are available on every channel convenient for you.