Travelling to Europe has become much more convenient for GCC and Indian visitors. The European Commission has approved new regulations for the issuance of Schengen visas to citizens of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Oman who live in their home countries.

Under the new system, Saudi, Bahraini and Omanis will now have access to multiple-entry visas, allowing them to travel to 25 out of the 27 EU countries using the same visa within five years.

This implementation has significantly simplified the process of obtaining a Schengen visa, making it much more convenient for eligible applicants, even first-time applicants. They can now look forward to receiving a multiple-entry visa that remains valid for up to five years, relieving them of the stress of frequent visa applications.

"The European Commission has adopted new rules for the issuance of Schengen visas for Saudi, Bahraini and Omani nationals residing in their home country. It is an important step promoting people-to-people contacts and facilitating exchanges between the EU and GCC citizens," the delegation of the European Union in GCC posted on X.

Kuwaitis can be issued with long-term, multi-entry Schengen visas valid for five years. UAE nationals enjoy visa-free travel to the Schengen nations, permitting stays of up to three months at a time. However, a Schengen visa is a must for UAE residents.

Additionally, the European Commission adopted specific rules on issuing multiple entry visas to Indians. Under the new regulations, Indian travellers are now eligible to obtain a two-year Schengen visa, a significant enhancement compared to the shorter validity periods previously offered.

To qualify for this extended visa, applicants must have obtained and used two Schengen visas within the last three years in accordance with the regulations. Upon successfully utilising the two-year visa, travellers can typically anticipate eligibility for a five-year Schengen visa, subject to the maintenance of sufficient passport validity.

This decision comes in the context of strengthened relations under the EU-India Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility, which seeks comprehensive cooperation on migration policy between the EU and India, with the facilitation of people-to-people contacts being a key aspect due to the importance of India as a partner for the EU.

These changes ease the visa application process and facilitate smoother travel experiences.

Schengen visas allow the holder to travel freely in the Schengen area for short stays of a maximum of 90 days in any 180-day period. The visas are not purpose-bound, but they do not grant the right to work. The Schengen area consists of 29 European countries (of which 25 are EU states): Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland and Sweden, along with Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

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