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The recent news for U.S. citizens traveling to Europe is the need to apply for an ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) visa, the new travel authorization to visit Europe that will be enforced from 2021. That is from 2021, all Americans who are planning to visit a European country will need an ETIAS.

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What Americans Need to Visit Europe in Future?

With more than 670 million tourists each year, European cities have become one of the top tourist destinations around the world. Countries like Spain, France, Greece, Germany, Italy, and Poland make Europe trips a must on everyone’s bucket list. Several European countries not only have abolished internal borders, but have also waived off their visa requirements from several nations. This makes Europe a favorite holiday destination for people all around the world.

US citizens, with a valid passport, have the advantage of traveling to Europe for 90 days without any form of travel authorization or Visa. However, the recent announcement by the EU about the creation of a Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) might put an end to the visa-free access to the European Union. Starting in 2021, citizens from 60 countries including Brazil, Canada, New Zealand, and the US will have to go through an authorization process before they will be able to enter Europe for a vacation

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ETIAS- What Americans Need to Go to Europe

The European Travel Information and Authorization System, shortly called ETIAS, is a program for visa waiver screening of visa-exempt travelers, who wish to enter the European Union territory, starting 2021. It is an automated IT system that will identify any security risk associated with a visa-exempt traveler entering into the Schengen area. The Schengen Area is a zone of 26 countries in Europe that do not have internal borders and allows people to move between them without any visa requirements. 

60 countries have established agreements with the European Union for visa-free travel. This means that the residents of these countries are permitted to enter the Schengen Zone without any need to obtain a visa. The agreement doesn’t permit the citizens of these countries to stay in the Schengen area for more than a period of 90 days, within 6 months. They are also not permitted to work during this period. However, several visitors have violated these rules by overstaying as well as working illegally. The establishment of ETIAS will not only help prevent these illegal activities but also prevent people with criminal records and ongoing charges from entering into the EU.

The establishment of the program was proposed by the European Council in June 2017, due to the increasing threat of terror attacks and illegal immigration in the past few years. The establishment of ETIAS was finally announced in May 2018 after an agreement between the council presidency and the European parliament representatives was reached. 

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How to Apply for ETIA and the Authorization Process 

The authorization process will require an online application, along with a service fee of around 7 Euros. After the completion of the application process, the information provided by the individual will be screened by the authorities against any security risks and approval shall be granted if there is no security risk found. The ETIAS authorization for Americans will apply to the 22 countries that are in the Schengen zone, and there won’t be any need for authorization for visiting the UK.

The completion of the application is estimated to take hardly 10 minutes and the approval might take a few hours or in some cases a few days. The European Commission states that more than 90% of the applicants will get an approval without any hassle. The ETIAS visa will have validity for 3 years and Americans will not be required to apply every time they visit. 

In addition to facilitating border checks, an ETIAS authorization will also help avoid delays for the travelers at the borders. The authorization process will also ensure a proper assessment of the non-EU citizens and ensure safety for the EU. An added benefit of this process will, of course, be the revenue collected from the nominal fee. 

Requirements to get ETIAS authorization for a Europe Visit

Applicants will need to answer several questions in the application form. They will need to provide information like their full name, address, date of birth, and travel plans. They will also be required to answer health and security-related questions and enter their passport details. 

Any errors in the answers to the questions in the application might lead to a delay or even rejection. Any discrepancies in the passport details of the individuals might also lead to delay in the authorization. However, if no such discrepancies are present, the applications will be accepted quickly provided that all other visa requirements are met.

 Rules for ETIAS Refusal

In case the authorization is refused, the applicant will either be informed of the final decision or asked to provide additional information within 96 hours. The national authority will have to give a final decision within four weeks of the initial application date. The applicants will always have the right to appeal against the refusal.  It will be better to apply at least a week before the planned date of your Europe trip, to avoid any complications. 

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The Benefits of ETIAS for Americans to Visit Europe

The main idea behind the ETIAS is to strengthen the border controls as well as to enhance the security within the borders. 

  • ETIAS will help in improving the security of not only the member nations but the EU as a whole. 
  • ETIAS will help EU member states to make advance checks and examination of the details of the people who wish to enter the EU.
  • It will also deny the authorization to any visa-exempt country citizen, who could be a potential threat to the EU.
  • The process will prevent illegal immigration and risk of terror attacks into the EU.
  • ETIAS will also help in reducing the delays that occur at the border checking for the identification of people who might be a security risk. 

“ETIAS authorization is not a visa”

Several media outlets had recently announced that Americans would be required to get a visa for traveling to the EU after 2021. However, the government authorities clarified that the ETIAS authorization is not a visa. The authorities stated that ETIAS is just a form of travel authorization for visa-free visitors, and cannot be considered a visa. The purpose of the authorization is simply to mitigate any security risks.             

Traveling to Europe after 2021 might seem a little complicated. However, you don’t need to stress too much if you have a Europe trip planned for 2021. If you have a valid passport, the required application fee, and are not a security threat to the European Union, you will be easily cleared to travel for 3 years. The new ETIAS authorization will not only make your next Europe trip a little easier at the borders but will also help keep Europe safe. 

If you are planning a trip to Europe, get in touch with Taj Travel, the best travel agency in USA to know more about the visa and essential procedures.

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