As soon as the readmission agreement comes into force, Belarus and the European Union will have to reinstate the following persons who do not meet the legal residence requirements in the other country: the agreement on the facilitation of issuing visas will facilitate the obtaining of short-term visas for Belarusian citizens, the visa fee being generally reduced to 35 euros and cancelled for certain categories of travellers. In addition, service charges are now limited and the time for consulates to make a decision on a visa application is now reduced. Several categories of travellers, including journalists, students and members of official delegations, may obtain multiple-entry visas with an increasingly long duration of validity (up to 5 years), while they must provide fewer proofs to prove their travel objective. Belarus has already unilaterally adopted measures to facilitate short-term visa exemption for EU citizens arriving in Minsk. Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Belarus to facilitate the issuance of visas In addition to Belarus, the EU has concluded agreements to facilitate the issuance of visas with Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cabo Verde, Northern Macedonia, Georgia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, the Russian Federation and Ukraine. There are formal readmission agreements or practical return and readmission agreements with 24 countries, including Belarus. ETIAS is an electronic travel authorization – no visa – available online without going through an embassy and with much simpler procedures. It is available to travellers from countries that have visa-free agreements with the Schengen area. On 8 January 2020, the EU and Belarus signed the agreements on visa facilitation and readmission. On the Russian side, a ratification procedure was then held, during which both agreements were adopted by the House of Representatives on 2 April 2020 and approved by the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly of Belarus. On the EU side, the European Parliament approved the conclusion of the agreements on 13 May 2020 and the Council formally concluded their ratification on 27 May 2020. Visa statistics show the growing importance of EU-Belarus relations. In 2019, the number of Schengen visa applications in Belarus reached nearly 650,000.
The conclusion of an agreement on the facilitation of visa issuance is an important step in relations between our peoples and will help strengthen our economic, cultural and scientific relations. After years of negotiations, representatives of the Republic of Belarus and the European Union signed agreements to facilitate Schengen visa procedures and reinstate people on both sides without authorization. With regard to the visa facilitation agreement, Vladimir Makei expressed his expectations for the European Union to show its support for the temporary freeze on the cost of Schengen visas for Belarusians, at least until the full implementation of the agreement.