The EU and Azerbaijan signed on the 29th of November a visa facilitation agreement at a ceremony that took place in Vilnius, Lithuania.
The agreement will make it easier and cheaper for citizens of Azerbaijan, in particular those who travel most, to acquire short-stay visas allowing them to travel to and freely throughout the EU. A short-stay visa is a visa for an intended stay of no more than 90 days in any period of 180 days.
For some categories of frequent travellers and under certain conditions, member states are supposed to issue multiple-entry visas with validity from one to up to five years. Holders of diplomatic are exempted from the visa obligation.
Under the agreement, the visa handling fee will not be collected for certain categories of applicants, including members of official delegations, children below the age of twelve, pensioners, researchers and students.
The agreement will now be sent to the European Parliament with a view to obtaining its consent before it can be concluded. It will enter into force on the first day of the second month following the date on which the two parties notify each other that the internal procedures have been completed, or at the date of the entry into force of the EU-Azerbaijan readmission agreement if that date is later. The two agreements will enter into force together.
The UK, Ireland and Denmark are not bound by the agreement.
Visa facilitation agreements go usually hand-in-hand with readmission agreements between the EU and third countries. The readmission agreement with Azerbaijan is expected to be signed soon, after the three-month deadline for the opt-in of the United Kingdom and Ireland expires and the relevant Council decision is adopted.
Readmission agreements set out clear obligations and procedures for the authorities of EU member states and the third countries concerned as to when and how to take back people who are illegally residing on the territories of the parties.
So far, the EU has signed visa facilitation and readmission agreements with eleven countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), the Republic of Moldova, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Ukraine, Georgia, Cape Verde and Armenia.
Source: EU Neighbourhood Info Centre