Cause and Effect: ‘Visas’ for US Citizens Abroad

Anyone remember when I wrote about the EU votes over Visas for Americans a little over two years ago? If not, don’t worry. I think we have all been distracted by other EU craziness…. I mean, come on, Brexit! what are you doing now? Anyway, is it bad to start out a post saying I told you so? Probably. But it is true, and timely since I just came off a year-long hiatus!

Now, I am not naive – with much bigger venues talking about this issue you most likely have heard all about this upcoming addition to your travel planning with US citizens needing to get “visas” – or more accurately ETIAS or, in layman’s terms, official permission to visit 22 European countries which are set to begin in 2021.

Honestly, I can’t shed new light on this subject, but people seem to be skirting around the cause and effect surrounding this issue – or what I have to assume is the cause and effect here.

To start, I am not going to rehash everything I talked about in 2017 – that post exists so if you want it, check the link in the first paragraph; However, I can give you a quick overview:

Basically, the US broke visa and entry requirement agreements and in 2014, was given a deadline to adhere to the original policies or face repercussions. The US did not get into alignment so the EU chose to vote on what those consequences should be.

This is where we find ourselves currently. Of course, this agreement has some back-peddling on earlier discussions (which stated that the time limit ended the time for negotiation) because this ‘visa isn’t a visa, it’s just official and application approved permission’ is contingent on – again – the US coming back into alignment with equitable policies and ending certain visa requirements that are still standing.

Did you miss that? It is generally buried at the end of things, usually after the point that you have clicked on the more official informational links.

Why does this matter?

Well, it has me wondering what might happen if the US doesn’t come into compliance, after all, we’ve had years to do so before this seeming half-step.

I also wonder why the idea of it increasing international security is being pushed more than the requirements of the current deal.

I can’t lie, a part of me kind of hopes these changes mean traveling within Europe will get more passport stamps than it currently does. Of course, due to the clause about needing only one ‘permission form’ (For lack of a better term here!) to enter these countries, I doubt it. At the same time, however, we don’t really have many details on what this will change, especially considering the locations of countries who are not requiring this kind of permission.

Could this mean slower traffic and more checks moving from excluded countries to those you’d now need permission to enter? If not, I am dumbfounded on how this helps with ‘international security’. Also, it means American’s will have to be very aware if they are visiting places like Croatia (which does not need an ETIAS), not to cross into other countries surrounding it without having done the extra paperwork!

The nice thing about these not being Visas – a major sticking point when I wrote on this topic two years ago – is that you don’t necessarily have to plan out every single thing on your European tour because getting the paperwork and permission done is kind of like an all-access pass to the newly added countries. If you suddenly want a day trip to a country not on your itinerary you are covered!

Why does this difference matter? If the EU decided to require Visas instead, each country would most likely require their own, meaning tracking many more tourists across their travels and having no wiggle-room in your trips – Visas are much more limiting and have more requirements (again, I talk about this more in the old post linked at the top!).

And with that said, again (I know, I keep looping around) what will happen if the US doesn’t change its policy as this current arrangement dictates?

The biggest thing to note since this change is still a few years out is that we don’t really know what the requirements for getting an ETIAS are going to be. We know they can be rejected and that you can appeal; that you have to have a valid email and a passport that must stay valid up to 3 months after the end of your travel; that you can pay and apply online; and that this is similar to the same program for EU citizens entering the US which is seen as a ‘pre-screening procedure.’

However, as of yet, we don’t know the price; how quickly the turn around will be (though I suspect the beginning of this period will be slow as many people will be looking to apply immediately); what this will do to travel time in airports and moving across Europe; and, of course, the unanswered – and often unasked – question (at least in what I have seen): what will happen to this program if the US fails to comply with the finer print of the deal?

But that’s all for me; just some food for thought…

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

PS. a major source and reason for this post was the Business Insider article that I saw flicker across my social media a lot in the past few weeks. I really loved some of their clarification on the matter and links to the official information, but I also (with my past history with the topic) feel like their brief but informative post left out the really interesting parts of the story.

Cause and Effect: ‘Visas’ for US Citizens Abroad

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