With almost 1.6 million applications in 2017, the twelve countries of emerging Europe whose citizens needed visas to visit the 26 Schengen countries in 2017 accounted for nearly 10 per cent of all 16.2 million applications received by Schengen consulates worldwide, according to SchengenVisaInfo.com.
Belarusians applied for 710,504 visas and Ukrainians for 694,349, although since June 11 2017 Ukrainians holding biometric passports have been able to travel to the Schengen Zone without a visa for a period of 90 days within any 180-day period for purposes other than working. Georgia was the fourth largest source of Schengen visa applications — within the first quarter – before the South Caucasus country was included in the visa liberalisation programme – 23,354 Georgians applied for Schengen visas.
Out of all nationalities globally, it is Russians who apply for the largest number of Schengen visas — 3,885,899 in 2017 alone. Russians were granted the highest number of Schengen visas in the past year. A total 3,826,151 visas were awarded to Russians while just 52,170, or 1.4 per cent, of applications were rejected.
In 2017, 57,601 of 66,171 Armenians applicants were granted a Schengen visa. At the same time, 8,473 visa applications were refused, representing 12.8 per cent of the total. Schengen consulates in Azerbaijan received 60,491 applications, and approved 52,226 of them; 7,942 visa applications or 13.1 per cent of the total were rejected. Interestingly, in the South Caucasus, Georgians had the highest rejection rate — 18.3 per cent. Within the first three months of 2017, Georgians were granted 19,141 Schengen visas and 4,263 applications were rejected.
The citizens of the six Western Balkans countries — Albania, Bosnia Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia — also need Schengen visas. In 2017, Kosovo, with a population of 1.8 million had the highest number of Schengen visa applications in the region. Schengen embassies located in the young European country absorbed 90,475 visa applications in total. Kosovo citizens had the highest rate of visa denials: 19.6 per cent. At the same time, Serbs applied for 7,238 visas and the rejection rate was just 2.7 per cent.
Currently, Schengen visas are required from the citizens of four emerging Europe countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus and Kosovo.