Coronavirus: EU Urged To Open Schengen Consulates Abroad To Provide Visa To Seafarers

As ship crew members have extended their contracts for months as a result of lockdown, The European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) and European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) have sent a letter to the European Commission, urging to reopen the Schengen consulates abroad to provide visa to seafarers.

In the letter, ETF and ECSA have urged the EU to extend the expired visas for seafarers or convert them into National Visas.

The letter addressed to the EU Member States stressed out, of “We have received information about some Schengen States are not extending expired visas, despite the recommendations in the guidance of 30th March to extend the maximum stay of 90 to 180 days or if required to stay beyond that period to provide a long-term national visa or a temporary residence permit. We urge the Member States to provide for overstaying seafarers with an extension of the validity.”

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The EU’s guideline identifies seafarers as essential transport workers whose activity across borders should be made easy, ignoring their nationality. ECSA, ETF, CLIA and World Shipping Council said, currently the important barrier is the inefficacy of the third country seafarers to obtain Schengen visas.

Third country seafarers are unable to obtain the required visa to temporarily enter the Schengen area to join or leave a ship as most of the countries have decided to temporarily close the majority of the diplomatic missions and visas on arrival are not generally available.

The groups have put up to enable more visas to be issued on arrival so that they can help to reimburse for the backlog of applications in the EU missions overseas.

Furthermore, the letter is trying to persuade the countries to accept recently used or expired visas, as the countries outside the Schengen area have done. To grant this, this may require a judicial measure.

They have further requested non-Schengen member states like Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ireland and Romania to provide visas to the seafarers and also provide various facilitations.

ECSA, ETF, CLIA and World Shipping Council are trying to persuade the European Union’s External Action Service to talk with third countries to propagate the EU and international efforts for the designation of seafarers to ease their movement so that they can get easy access to medical treatment and leave the shore.

ECSA, ETF, CLIA Europe and World Shipping Council said, ‘These emergency solutions would bring critical relief for many seafarers who have been at sea for many months, employment for those replacing them and support for the maintenance of shipping services that will be vital to the recovery of our economies in the short, medium and long term,’

Reference: Schengen Visa Info

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