Bulgaria and Romania are to begin issuing short-term Schengen visas to foreign nationals, including Nigerians, from April 1, 2024, following approval from the European Union (EU). The report by Fragomen clarified that decisions by European Union officials had cleared Bulgaria and Romania to begin issuing uniform Schengen C visas from April 1, 2024.
Schengen Area signifies a zone where 26 European countries abolished their internal borders for the free and unrestricted movement of people, in harmony with common rules for controlling external borders and fighting criminality by strengthening the common judicial system and police cooperation.
A Schengen C visa, also known as a short-stay visa, is a visa that allows the holder to travel or stay in the Schengen area for up to 90 days within 180 days. The 180-day period starts on the day the holder enters the Schengen area. Since joining the EU in 2007, the two southeastern European nations have tried to join the Schengen Area for over a decade.
Countries like Austria had opposed admitting Bulgaria and Romania, raising concerns about the irregular migration problem in the pair. However, in December 2023, Austria conceded this position and allowed the removal of border checks for air and sea travel.
Starting March 31, 2024, Bulgaria and Romania will partially join Europe’s Schengen Area. This means that border checks will no longer be required for air- or sea-based travel between Bulgaria, Romania and other Schengen Area countries.
This move is expected to make travelling between Bulgaria, Romania and Schengen area countries easier and quicker for affected travellers, who will no longer be subject to border control inspections.
Generally, national entry visas only provide transit rights through Schengen Area countries (unless the Schengen Area country has specifically granted entry and stay rights for such visas).
Bulgaria and Romania join a long list of countries issuing visas to Nigerians and other foreign nationals including Ireland which opened its borders to skilled workers to address its labour shortage and Estonia which opened work visas for foreign skilled workers across 23 in-demand jobs.