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Migration Policy of the Czech Republic, Legal and Illegal Migration in the Czech Republic and in the European Union, Visa and Readmission Policy, Analytical Centre for Protection of State Borders and Migration 

Visa Policy

Common visa policy forms one of the basic pillars of the border control system of EU/Schengen Member States and, at the same time, represents an instrument for migration management and a component of external relations policy. The aim of partly unified visa and consular practice is to enable the entry of third-country nationals who fulfil the conditions for entry and stay in the territory of the EU/Schengen area and to prevent the entry of those who could endanger security and public policy.

A number of EU rules applied by Member States and, since 1 May 2004, also by the Czech Republic, have been harmonized for the above-mentioned purpose. First of all, single list of countries that are subject to a visa requirement plus a list of countries for which this requirement is waived is laid down by the Council Regulation (EC) No 539/2001, as amended, and its Annexes I and II (consolidated version – as of 19/12/2009). This Regulation is binding and applicable in all EU Member States except for the United Kingdom and Ireland.

The EU has also commonly harmonised such things as the uniform format for visas and the way of affixing visa stickers to travel documents, agreed on standards for security features and biometrics in passports and travel documents, set up a system enabling sharing and exchanging information on genuine and false documents, etc.

Visa policy is further developed by the Schengen Member States and as such is subject to a number of common rules concerning in particular short-stay visas. The procedures and conditions for issuing visas for transit through or intended stays in the territory of the Schengen Member States not exceeding three months in any six-month period are regulated since 5 April 2010 by the Community Code on Visa (Regulation No 810/2009).

Nationals of third countries exempted from the visa requirement (Annex II of the Regulation 539/2001) are allowed to enter the territories of Schengen Member States and stay for tourist purpose for a period of time not exceeding three months during the six months following the date of first entry. Member State may decide whether to establish visa obligation for third-country nationals in cases when they carry out gainful activity on its territory. The Czech Republic, similarly to other Member States, requires in this regard short-term visas for the purpose of employment. Third-country nationals subject to visa obligation (Annex I of the Regulation 539/2001) require a visa to enter the Schengen area.

Stay on the territory of the Czech Republic/Schengen area exceeding three months requires long-stay national visa or residence permit, which are issued according to the Act on Stay of Aliens on the territory of the Czech Republic (No 326/1999 Coll., as amended). Schengen rules concerning long-term stays in principle harmonize only rules for movement within the Schengen territory, issuing arrangements and visa format (for latest development, see here).

Short-term visas

A uniform (so called Schengen) visa enables its holder to move freely in all Schengen Member States and is issued only once all the stipulated conditions have been met. Fulfilment of these conditions is thoroughly examined. The uniform visa stand for a visatype C, which allows its holder to stay in the Schengen territory for the period of time indicated on the visa, however for not more than three months during the half year following the date of first entry into the Schengen area. Type C visa may also be issued for the purpose of transit, whereas the length of the authorised stay shall correspond to the time necessary for the purpose of the transit (transit visa type B was cancelled by the Visa Code).

The requirement to hold airport transit visa (type A) when transiting through the international transit areas of airports situated on the territory of Schengen Member States is an exception to the general right to pass through the aforementioned international transit area without a visa. For security reasons, nationals of some third countries are required to hold such a visa. There is a common list of third countries concerned, which forms Annex IV of the Visa Code. Furthermore, every Member State has the right to set up its own national list of third countries whose nationals are required to be in possession of an airport transit visa when passing through the international transit area of airports situated on its territory – see the overview. In the Czech Republic, such a list, containing both national and common list, is laid down by Decree No. 446/2005 Coll., as amended.

Under certain conditions (Art. 25 of the Visa Code), a Schengen State may also exceptionally issue a visa with limited territorial validity, which enables its holder toenter into and stay only in the territory of one or more Schengen Member States but not the whole Schengen area.

Long-term stays (exceeding 90 days) – long-stay visas/residence permits

In principle, neither EU community regulations nor the regulations set forth in the Schengen acquis regulate conditions for stays of more than three months, which are exclusively within the national competence of the Member States. The Schengen acquis does however contain provisions concerning free movement and the right to a long-term stay on the territory of the Schengen area. According to these rules, it is possible to travel freely with a long-stay visa or a residence permit issued by a Schengen Member State – and a valid passport – for a period of up to three months during the six-month period even outside the territory of the Schengen State that issued the long-stay visa/residence permit.

Long-stay visa is issued as visa type D in a uniform format and according to conditions laid down by the EU Regulation No 265/2010. Visa Code cancelled previously issued type D+C visa. When issuing long-stay visas, Schengen Information System records are checked. Not all Member States issue long-stay visas and stays of more than three months are covered directly by a residence permit. The Czech Republic issues type D long-stay visas as well as residence permits.

One of the topics included within the external dimension of visa policy addresses various levels of the intensity of cooperation with individual third countries in relation to visas (usually within the framework of migration and mobility). This includes such things as agreements on facilitation of the issuance of visas (Visa Facilitation Agreements – see Handbook for the processing of visa applications and the modification of issued visas) or launching a visa dialogue with the perspective of establishing a visa free regime between the EU and the respective third country. The latter process concerns countries of the Western Balkan - as the established conditions have been met, it was decided that, starting on 19 December 2009, a visa-free regime is being implemented for nationals of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia if they are in possession of a biometric passport (see Regulation No 1244/2009).

The area of visa and consular matters is one that is dynamically developing and being further specified within the EU/Schengen area. The most significant lately adopted legislative instruments may be found on the pages of Ministry of Interior.

Department for Asylum and Migration Policy, 12 May 2010

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