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

A Few Tips for the Changing World of Travel

No matter where you are in the world tonight, you know that traveling right now pretty much sucks. And let’s be honest, I can’t really write a travel blog without covering some of the topics that will follow.

Between new edicts (political), protests, and changes in policy (airlines), there is so much to research and keep up with. This can make it so easy to just say screw it and stay home, or, for those contrarians, want to get out in the world to witness the change.

I am not going to argue one way or the other here – I have plenty of viewpoints on each of the matters listed but that’s not the point of this blog (I may be willing to chime in if anyone wants to know in the comment section). Instead, I’m going to talk about what has changed, what you may want to look further into, and how you should plan around it all.

1. Short term (which could become long term) travel and immigration ban into the United States.

This was an executive order that’s popped up in the past week which is wrecking plans for travelers, green card holders, residents, and families of all the above who are traveling from one of the ‘banned’ countries. It’s actually crazy the amount this has effected travel around the world and it’s only been a few days. If you or your family has been effective – or you are one of the many who want to get involved due to political or civil rights motivations – really do your research. It’s important to know all your rights, the rights of those detained, the numbers of multiple protection agencies (many groups and lawyers are currently working pro-bono). Of course, this has spread to other travel related delays which I will cover in a few points.

2. Airlines that will not fly into certain states because of their political standing.

States like California have banned state-funded travel to states that have instituted anti-LGBT+ laws. Basically, this can reduce the number of flights heading to these states which may affect ticket prices. These bans cross airlines and were set in place to decrease travel and tourism revenues of the states in the hope that economic fallout will send a message about equal rights. I do not know how this has worked out, but seeing as states have done this, there is some possibility (currently theoretical) of countries around the world looking at similar bans for the US (though really unlikely). There are plenty of petitions around the world asking their governments to ban specific people traveling into their countries.

3. Nation-wide airport protests.

We’re bouncing back to the bans. In the wake of the executive order this week, huge crowds have gathered at airports nation-wide protesting the ban and trying to help the refugees that have been trapped within the airports. Whether you support the protesters or not, you should definitely be  aware of the slow down happening if you need to use the airports. Give yourself longer time frame to get to the airport and through security. Security may be growing as lawyers and other civil workers move through security to do what they can closer to those detained, while getting through the protest and into the security line can also take longer. Pre-print or load your ticket onto your phone so you have less to deal with when checking your bag and have everything ready when you go through security – we’ve talked about all the mishaps that can happen many times.

4. Taxi-cab (and others) boycott airports

In a similar vein, cab drivers – as many of them are immigrants or the children of immigrants – have boycotted picking up and dropping off at airports. This maybe a short term, reoccurring, or long-haul boycott – only time will tell. While some cab-alternatives are more than willing to get you to the airport, others are standing with the cab companies (even pledging thousands of dollars to help finance civil liberties groups). My only political statement here is remember that your purchasing power is political, so who you choose to spend your money with is who you are siding with in these kinds of fights – it really is as simple as that. Again, the tip here is all about giving yourself time and planning ahead, also keep an eye out on what is happening so you can change your travel plans if need be.

5. Baggage policy changes

Now we’ll step away from politics. Before the US changed hands, multiple airlines (you should research this as the trend is growing) have started charging for carry-on items for economy passengers – carrying on a bag can now cost you $25 dollars, plus a $25 at-gate checking fee (That’s a $50 charge guys). This doesn’t count for personal items, ie a purse or bag that first under your seat but anything that has to go in an overhead bin will be charged these fees. So, now you’ll have to debate costs: stay economy and pay fees (plus regular bag check fees) while packing smart; or move to a more expensive ticket and get the perks including carry-on luggage, more space, food (in some cases), and in-airport luxuries (ie lounges).Again, this is across multiple airlines and seems to be expanding so research, research, research!

So that’s it. The world is changing fast and, no matter where you are, where you are going, or what side of the battle lines you may fall on, you will inevitably feel the ripples of those changes. Be prepared and stay safe out there.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

A Few Tips for the Changing World of Travel