The number of Schengen visas issued worldwide last year fell shockingly due to the Corona virus pandemic, which forced the Schengen countries to stop issuing visas, especially for tourists and business travelers.
While in 2019, nearly 17 million people from third countries applied for a visa to enter the Schengen area, in 2020, the number of visas issued was less than three million (2924,365).
Despite the 82.7 percent drop in applications, the visa refusal rate rose from 9.9 percent worldwide in 2019 to 13.6 percent last year.
The drop in the number of European visas issued last year came as a result of the closure of Schengen embassies around the world for most of the year. Back in March 2020, even before the EU Commission made its recommendation to member states to close the bloc’s external borders, member states had already closed a large number of their embassies and consulates abroad due to the coronavirus.
While some consulates later reopened, they also offered very limited services to third-country travelers who needed Schengen visas because the European Union kept its borders closed to the majority of travelers.
However, the block, step by step, reopened the doors only to certain categories of travelers, who were allowed to apply for Schengen visas in 2020.
France and Germany are the top preferred destinations for Schengen visa applicants
Even in the midst of embassies closing, France is again listed as the Schengen country with the highest number of short-term European visa applications received, even though the country registered an 83 per cent drop compared to 2019, when it received 3,989,989 applications or more than a fifth of the number. Total for Schengen applications filed worldwide.
Data from TheSchengen.com shows that France remains at the top of the table for receiving the most visa applications in 2020. Its embassies abroad received a total of 658,247 short-stay visa applications, or 22.5 per cent of the 29,24,365 applications made abroad by consulates of the 26 countries. Schengen members.
The rejection rate among French consulates for Schengen visa applications is the fifth highest in the entire Schengen area, with 18.5 percent of applications or 125,579 being rejected. Last year, France was listed as the third Schengen country with the highest rate of visa refusal.
Second, Germany is included, just as in previous years, with 411,826 Schengen visa applications received in 2020, a decrease of 81 per cent compared to 2,171,309 applications made in Germany in 2019.
Again, even in 2020, Germany issued the largest number of Limited Regional Validity (LTV) visas – 10,070. Recipients of these visas are not allowed to travel throughout the entire Schengen area. They can only travel to a limited number of countries.
Russia remains the largest source country for Schengen visa applications
The number of Schengen visa applications submitted at the embassies and consulates of Schengen countries in the Russian Federation experienced a staggering 84 percent decrease in 2020, compared to the previous year.
From 4,133,100 Schengen visa applications submitted by Russian citizens in 2019, the number of applications decreased to only 653,764 in 2019, TheSchengen.com reports.
However, Russia remains the country with the largest number of applications submitted. While in 2019, about a quarter (24.3 percent) of applications for a Schengen visa were submitted in Russia, in 2020, 22.3 percent of all applications were submitted at the same embassies and consulates.
In 2019, and the other years before that, China was the second largest exporter of apps. Due to the early outbreak of the epidemic in Wuhan, China, in 2020, Turkey ranked second with 229,282 applications and China ranked third with 206,907.
However, the increase in the number of visas rejected by Schengen embassies was also reflected in Russia, where the rate of refused visas increased from 1.5 percent to 2.6 percent.
The Finnish consulate in St. Petersburg was the busiest Schengen consulate even in light of the spread of the new Corona virus.
Even amid the pandemic, the Finnish consulate in Saint Petersburg is again the busiest Schengen consulate in the world, with the highest number of Schengen visa applications received worldwide.
According to Schengen visa statistics, a total of 97,026 applications were processed by this consulate, which is seven times less than in 2019, when 644,858 applications were received.
The second busiest consulate in Russia in 2020 was the Italian Consulate in Moscow, with 84,921 applications received, followed by the French Consulate also in Moscow with 73,453 applications received.
>> Finland records 83% drop in Schengen visa applications in 2020
African Countries Set Highest Visa Denial Rates Even in 2020
In 2020, African countries recorded the highest rates of Schengen visa application rejections. Of the 15 countries with the highest rejection rates, only three are non-African. The list is as follows:
Guinea-Bissau 53 percent Senegal 52.2 percent Nigeria 51 percent Sudan 48.6 percent Ghana 47.9 percent Guinea 47.2 percent Comoros 45.6 percent Burundi 45.3 percent Eritrea 44.8 percent Bangladesh 44.6 Percentage Pakistan – 43.5 per cent Haiti – 44.1 per cent Angola – 39.8 per cent Côte d’Ivoire – 38.4 per cent Algeria – 38 per cent
In contrast to the increase in Schengen visa denials worldwide, in Algeria, the proportion of visas denied in 2020 was lower than in the previous two years, at 38 percent. In 2019, meanwhile, 43 percent of applications submitted in Algeria were rejected, while the proportion was even higher in 2018 at 45.5 percent.
Increase the number of visas in 2021, but it will remain low compared to before the pandemicائح
More than a year after closing their borders, EU countries are determined to open their doors to travelers from other countries, including Russia, in an effort to prevent the summer of 2020 from repeating itself, during which it lost billions.
Some EU countries are already allowing entry to travelers who have been vaccinated against COVID-19, who have recently recovered from the virus, or those who have tested negative.
The European Union has also recommended member states to reopen borders to travelers from non-EU countries who have been vaccinated against COVID-19. It remains up to member states to decide whether they want to allow entry to travelers vaccinated with vaccines not yet approved by the EMA.
On the other hand, many Schengen area countries have opened Schengen visa processing centers abroad, while Italy, for example, now allows Russians whose visas have expired after January 1, 2020, to renew them.