Should Students Be Worried About the EU Visa Mandate?

March 15th, 20179:00 am @

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Advancey Drop Cap 1h, springtime. As usual, it’s arrival awakens those sun-filled fantasies of post-hibernation getaways, spring break extravaganzas, and summertime excursions….

If you’ve found yourself stuck in this familiar dreamy state, it might be time to wake up. In fact, it’s not only the lingering chill in the air that might keep you from feeling those happy holiday feelings – it’s the law, too.

On Friday, March 3, 2017, the European Union Parliament unveiled a press release that certainly confirmed that other nations have noticed the recent foreign policy decisions made by the United States’ new administration, and they are more than capable of doing something in retaliation.

According to their online news source, the EU Commission was asked by Parliament to retaliate against the United States’ failure to reciprocate visa-free access to five members of the EU, including Poland, Croatia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Romania, by temporarily requiring all American travelers to obtain a visa before being allowed entry into any of the twenty-eight nations within the EU.

This motion is a non-binding resolution, or the expression by the Parliament of their disapproval of the state of the Commission’s lack of action against the visa-restricted access of the US even though the Parliament can’t actually pass any hard laws on it. They’ve given the Commission two months to make it happen, thereby also providing an open window for the U.S. to save their skin before the situation gets messy.

Now, what does all of this mean for the relationship between the U.S. and…everyone else? Claude Moraes, the leader of the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, told the New York Times that the exclusion by the U.S. of only these five specific nations definitely creates a plethora of negative feelings, if not a certain impression of prejudice, among the many people who do wish to migrate.

Without Washington’s agreement to a resolution plan or even a set amount of time within which a change could be made, frustrations are increasing as well as long-term concerns. If the goal of the Commission’s temporary requiring of American visas is to encourage the U.S. to establish reciprocity with the remaining five nations, which, by the way, Washington seems to have no inclination of doing, many fear that the end result will in fact be the end of visa reciprocity between the U.S. and the EU entirely.

Perhaps you are a student with a keen desire to take your higher education across oceans, and you are feeling a bit panicked. Common questions include, “What does all of this mean for potential study abroad programs?” “Will I be able to safely leave and then re-enter the country even if the visa reciprocity is achieved?” “What about the life changing and perspective altering trip I’ve always planned, during which my whole concept of self was no doubt going to be flipped on its head and I would return to Penn with a renewed desire to face my challenges and change the world?!??!”

To that I say…take a deep breath – it’s alright! Your dreams are not shattered yet! First of all, according to the Association of International Educators’ website, many countries would have required a student visa anyway. Others, like the popular destinations of Spain, France, and Italy, only require visas if the student plans to stay for longer than 90 days. However, the wording is such that international students from “countries exempt from applying for a visitor visa” do not need student visas for short-term stays. As of now, Americans are in the clear. The future of the already complicated process of applying for study abroad programs may be a beast yet unmatched by American students, and even for EU students seeking an education in the states.

Whether you’re a frequent traveler, a closeted explorer, or an antsy student wishing to see the world, keep your eyes peeled in the coming months for what comes next. The U.S. could decide to establish total reciprocity, or the Commission could cement another speed bump in the already winding road to adventure. Until then…bon voyage!

Image courtesy of Getty Images.