The freedom of movement and access to mobility is one of the fundamental rights of all residents on the European continent. Moving forward the strive towards economic social and cultural integration and self-identification of Europeans united in their diversity faces the obstacles of visa and border policy inherited from the XIX century. Today more and more young people from all over Europe choose the opportunity to voluntarily contribute to the development, promotion and spreading of common European values. However most of the volunteers from European but non-EU countries coming to EU member states for developing and managing projects aimed on promotion of European integration, intercultural youth dialogue and cooperation, still have to pass through complicated, expensive and demotivating visa procedures.
Among these procedures are consulate charges (up to 180 Euro in certain EU countries), unnecessarily expensive medical check (up to 600 Euro), unclear timeline (up to 6 months waiting for issuing the Visa, while most of the projects last no longer than 12 months). Moreover these procedures create logistical expenses: getting to and from the location of the consulate/embassy including accommodation, high charges for sending documents by post and other indirect time and money consuming and demotivating operations. In the end the volunteer going to work for free for promoting European values feels him/herself alienated, less willing to contribute to further projects and to spread information about similar projects.
For this reason AEGEE as interdisciplinary European students’ association strives for simplifying the visa procedure for unremunerated trainees or volunteers, who serve projects funded by and in line with the values of the EU.
AEGEE proposes that in case a stagier or trainer is working on the development of European Integration, European Citizenship concept, volunteering in projects promoting values of the European Union, funded by an institution of the European Union, the stagier or trainer should go through a simplified visa procedure, meaning:
- no proof of financial status needed (in case the grant of the receiving association covers the living costs and subsistence);
- if an obligatory medical certificate is needed it should be reimbursed from the European Commission’s funding on the project granted, the stagier or trainer is involved in;
- any kind of appeared costs related to issuing a visa (travel costs to the consulate/embassy, subsistence costs or other costs if needed) should be reimbursed from the funding source;
- the invitation letter of the stagier or trainer issued by the granted association sent by fax from the association’s head office to the respective embassy shall be accepted as official invitation;
- the procedure of issuing the visa should not exceed the total period of two weeks (could be ensured by the European Commission directive in the framework of the Schengen agreement);
- the visa should be automatically issued in C+D format (allowing the stagier to leave the country before the Residence Permit is issued).
AEGEE-Europe is one of the largest interdisciplinary student associations in Europe, which promotes a unified Europe, cross-border cooperation, communication, integration among students and strives to create an open and tolerant society of tomorrow. AEGEE is a voluntary non-profit organization that operates without being linked to any political party. It is represented in 230 university cities, in 42 countries all around Europe and has about 15.000 members.
Created 25 years ago, AEGEE has been working on a regular basis with the European Commission on implementing projects and is consulted on themes related to the students and particularly to the SOCRATES program. AEGEE is also recognized and has Consultative Status towards UNESCO and Participatory Status towards the Council of Europe.
AEGEE-Europe is looking forward to proceed with the discussion on the topic.