People, Travel

Americans, Canadians May Need Visa to Enter Europe

Americans, Canadians May Need Visa to Enter Europe
Americans, Canadians May Need Visa to Enter Europe

The European Commission will consider imposing visa requirements on tourists from the United States and Canada because not all EU citizens enjoy visa-free travel to North America.

According to spokeswoman Mina Andreeva, the item would be on the commission’s agenda for this week.

“Our goal remains full and reciprocal visa waiver with our strategic partners,” Andreeva said, “and we are working constructively with them on this.”

The commission, the European Union’s executive body, is compelled by an April 12 deadline to recommend suspending visa-free travel for US nationals if EU citizens do not receive the same treatment on the other side of the Atlantic, DW reported.

Citizens from 23 EU countries are eligible to take part in the US visa waiver scheme when they want to travel to the US, but those from Cyprus, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia are not.

Canada has a similar program, which excludes citizens from Romania and Bulgaria.

With the exception of the aforementioned nationalities, Americans and EU citizens can visit each other’s countries for up to 90 days without a visa.

Should the commission recommend suspending the US visa waiver, it would be due to take effect after four months. In the meantime, EU member states and the European Parliament could reverse the plan.

Should the commission decide to re-impose visa requirements on North Americans, the move could be overturned by the European Parliament. Furthermore, the US or Canada could respond by mandating visas for all EU citizens, according to Reuters.

There are fears that if the EU does move to reintroduce visa requirements for Americans it may harm negotiations on the free trade and investment treaty known by its acronym TTIP.

The issue is of particular interest to Iranian dual citizens following the recent implementation of a US law that terminated visa-free travel privileges to the US for citizens of the EU if they are dual nationals of Iran, Iraq, Syria or Sudan, or have recently traveled to those countries.

While the measure was ostensibly aimed at heightened security fears in the aftermath of the so-called Islamic State terror attacks in Paris and Brussels, the targeting of dual nationals and inclusion of Iran as a restricted country has spurred criticism from civil liberties groups and a massive outcry from the Iranian-American community.