Starting December 21, third-country passport holders to any Schengen country will receive a new format of Schengen visa stickers.
The European Commission said that the current visa sticker is being compromised in serious frauds. Following which it stated in a regulation that a uniform format for visa stickers has been laid down.
Finland has already begun implementing these new visa stickers, November 11 onwards. It has also clarified that visas stickers issued before this date, will be valid for the duration specified on them. All other Schengen countries are expected to issue the new visa stickers by December end.
Passport holders of third-country nationals require short-term Schengen visas to visit European borderless territories.
(Third Country National is a term often used in the context of migration, referring to individuals who are in transit and/or applying for visas in countries that are not their country of origin, in order to go to a destination country that is likewise not their country of origin.)
The 26 Schengen countries are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
The current design of the visa sticker has been in circulation for 20 years now.
Meanwhile, Schengen members are also working on implementing a new visa code adopted by the European Union Council that will speed up visa procedures for frequent third-country travellers. This new code allows applicants to lodge applications three months in advance, involves increased visa fees from €60 to €80, and the facility to fill and sign the form electronically.
Switzerland and Netherlands are expected to apply this new code by February 2020.