The European Commission has proposed to partially suspend the visa waiver agreement with the Republic of Vanuatu.
According to a press release issued by the Commission today, on January 12, the agreement with Vanuatu, which allows the latter’s citizens to travel to the EU without a visa for stays up to 90 days in any 180-period, should be suspended since Vanuatu’s investor citizenship schemes are posing risks on the security of the EU Member States.
The Commission’s proposal follows extensive exchanges with Vanuatu, including prior warnings regarding the possibility of visa waiver suspension, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
The golden passport scheme that Vanuatu has allows citizens of third countries to obtain citizenship, provided that they make an investment of at least $130,000. This means that third-country nationals who make such an investment can enjoy visa-free access to the EU.
Taking into account that Vanuatu has granted citizenship to applicants listed in Interpol’s databases, has a low rejection rate, short processing time of applications as well no systematic exchange of information with the applicants’ origin country, the Commission has concluded that Vanuatu’s investor citizenship schemes pose heightened risks for the security of the EU and its Member States.
For this reason, the Commission is waiting for the Council of the European Union to examine the proposal and suspend the visa waiver agreement.
Vanuatu has been promoting investor citizenship schemes since 2015. Thus, if the proposal gets approved, the suspension of visa-free access to the EU would be applicable to all holders of ordinary passports that were issued as of May 25, 2015.
“Investor citizenship schemes operated by Vanuatu since 2015 are commercially promoted with the expressed purpose of granting visa-free access to the EU, while the visa waiver agreement is not aimed at allowing visa-required travellers to circumvent the visa requirement by acquiring Vanuatu citizenship,” the statement of the Commission reads.
Accordingly, this means that the holders of these visas would no longer be allowed to travel to the EU Member States without holding a valid visa. Nonetheless, everyone would still be able to apply for a visa to visit the EU.
It has been revealed that Vanuatu will be informed at least two months before the suspension is applied if the Council decides to take such a decision. In the meantime, the Commission needs to establish an enhanced dialogue with Vanuatu.