SCHENGEN ZONE ENLARGES
New member states of the Schengen zone include Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia and Malta.
Today the states parties to the Schengen Agreement include Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.
The date for lifting internal border control for land and sea-borders is December 21, 2007 and for air borders - March 30, 2008.
A Schengen visa issued by a diplomatic mission of one of these countries is valid in all member-states.
New member states will start issuing Schengen visas on 21 December 2007. The conditions will be the same as for the Schengen visas issued by the present Schengen member states.
The EC officials further said that third-country nationals subject has to apply for visas at the consulate of the Schengen state of his/her main destination (main reason for the visit or the longest visit in case of visiting more than one state). If the state of main destination cannot be determined (intention to make visits of equal length in different member states), the application has to be submitted to the consulate of the state of first entry.
Third country nationals can travel with one Schengen visa within the whole Schengen area including new member states. The abolition of internal border checks does not affect the exercise of security checks on persons carried out at ports and airports, the EC noted.
The European Commission underscored that national short-stay visa remains valid even after 21 December 2007; however, it will be valid only for stay in the territory of the member state which issued that visa. However, during a transitional period, until June 21, 2008 such a national short-stay visa issued by one of the member states joining the Schengen area allows for transit through the territory of the other member states joining the Schengen area, except for transits through the territory of Estonia and Lithuania.
MD: Thanks to this enlargement, many Macedonians are applying to get a Slovenian visa now