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New Schengen Visa Regulations Ease Travel for GCC and Indian Visitors

New Schengen Visa Regulations Ease Travel for GCC and Indian Visitors

Travelling to Europe has become significantly more convenient for visitors from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and India. The European Commission has recently approved new regulations for the issuance of Schengen visas to citizens of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, and India residing in their home countries.

Under the new system, Saudi, Bahraini, and Omani citizens can now obtain multiple-entry visas, allowing them to travel to 29 European countries using the same visa for up to five years. This implementation simplifies the process of obtaining a Schengen visa, making it more accessible even for first-time applicants. Eligible applicants can now receive a multiple-entry visa valid for five years, alleviating the need for frequent visa applications. The European Union delegation in the GCC announced this development on X, highlighting it as an important step in promoting people-to-people contacts and facilitating exchanges between EU and GCC citizens.

Kuwaiti nationals can also be issued long-term, multiple-entry Schengen visas valid for five years. Meanwhile, UAE nationals benefit from visa-free travel to Schengen countries, allowing them to stay for up to three months at a time. However, UAE residents must still obtain a Schengen visa.

The European Commission has also introduced specific rules for issuing multiple-entry visas to Indian citizens. Under these new regulations, Indian travelers are now eligible to obtain a two-year Schengen visa, a notable improvement from the shorter validity periods previously available. To qualify for this extended visa, applicants must have obtained and used two Schengen visas within the last three years according to the regulations. Upon successfully utilizing the two-year visa, travelers can generally expect to qualify for a five-year Schengen visa, provided they maintain sufficient passport validity.

These changes reflect the context of strengthened relations under the EU-India Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility. This agenda aims to enhance cooperation on migration policy between the EU and India, emphasizing the facilitation of people-to-people contacts due to India's significance as an EU partner.