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European Market Update



The last two weeks have seen a lot of visa updates coming from Europe. From Italy to Belgium, one can notice the emergence of a little more relaxed travel and work visa norms taking place. Here is a compilation of everything happening around the continent:


1. Bulgaria and Romania enter Europe’s Schengen Area


Bulgaria and Romania have finally joined Europe's expansive Schengen area. This development streamlines air and sea travel, abolishing the need for border checks within the Schengen zone. Nonetheless, Austria's veto has restricted this status exclusively to air and sea routes, citing concerns regarding potential asylum seekers. With this advancement, travelers arriving by air or sea to these nations will no longer require a separate visa and can utilise their Schengen visas. However, those journeying by road will necessitate additional documentation.


2. Italy’s opens Digital Nomad Visa for Foreigners


Italy has introduced its digital nomad visa welcoming skilled professionals worldwide who wish to explore this country. Digital nomads, defined by the Italian government, are non-EU or Swiss citizens capable of remote work. They must demonstrate an income triple the minimum level required for healthcare exemption. Additionally, health insurance coverage for the stay duration, proof of accommodation, and six months of remote work experience are required. A minimum education and other documents need to be attached too. Similar to the EU Blue Card, this visa targets highly skilled individuals. It grants a one-year residence permit, renewable indefinitely, with the possibility of obtaining permanent EU residency. Family members can also be sponsored under the family reunification pathway.


3. Belgium Announces Changes for Foreign Workers


Effective May 1, 2024, the Flanders Region in Belgium will enact substantive revisions to its immigration framework, particularly concerning the employment of foreign nationals. Emphasising the primacy of local and European labor, these changes seek to meticulously evaluate regional workforce dynamics prior to admitting non-native workers. Aligned with Flanders' strategic vision of labor migration, these policy updates include nuanced adjustments to work permit regulations, such as expanded exemptions and refined criteria for skilled migration programs like the EU Blue Card scheme and intra-company transfers. Central to these reforms is the widening scope of work permit exemptions, permitting various business activities under a designated business visitor status, thereby obviating the need for a formal work permit. However, monitoring of stay durations, limited to 90 days within any 180-day period, is incumbent upon employers. These measures aim to harmonise the facilitation of foreign expertise with the imperative of fostering domestic talent, advancing Flanders' competitiveness on the global stage while safeguarding the integrity of its labor market. 


4. Indian’s now eligible for Multiple Entry Schengen Visa with Longer Validity


The European Commission has unveiled an innovative visa "cascade" system tailored specifically for Indian nationals seeking access to Schengen visas, heralding a new era of streamlined travel for Indian visitors. Under this progressive framework, Indian residents can now obtain long-term, multi-entry Schengen visas valid for up to two years, following the lawful use of two visas within the preceding three years. Subsequently, eligible passport holders may seamlessly transition to a five-year visa, depending on the passport expiry date. This extended validity empowers travelers with the freedom to explore the Schengen area, enjoying short stays of up to 90 days within any 180- day period. The implementation of this visionary visa regime underscores the EU's commitment to fostering closer ties with India through the EU-India Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility. By facilitating smoother people-to-people interactions, this initiative reinforces India's pivotal role as a valued partner for the EU, underscoring the deepening collaboration between these two entities on migration policy and beyond






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