People seeking visas for the United States and Americans seeking visas for European Union countries are set to face increased confusion.
First of all American President Donald Trump is set to announce yet another executive order dealing with who can and cannot get a visa for the US later this week and secondly the European Parliament has voted to end visa free travel for Americans within the EU.
The situation with Europe is a result of the US not agreeing visa free travel for citizens of five EU countries; Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania. It was meant to do so as part of a reciprocity agreement and would normally mean that US citizens can normally travel to all countries in the EU without a visa.
But with no agreement it looks likely that Americans will have to apply for extra documents for the next 12 months after the European Commission warned several times that the US was not meeting its obligations under the reciprocity agreement.
Members of the European Parliament want the order to be upheld but it is currently not clear if the European Commission will act on the vote. There are concerns that enforcing it may have consequences including a potential retaliation from the Trump administration and a drop in visitor numbers which could hit tourism.
Trump has indicated that he wants to introduce a merit based immigration system similar to the points system currently in use in Canada and Australia. ‘It is a basic principle that those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially. Yet, in America, we do not enforce this rule, straining the very public resources that our poorest citizens rely upon,’ he told Congress.
‘Switching away from this current system of lower skilled immigration, and instead adopting a merit based system, will have many benefits: it will save countless dollars, raise workers’ wages, and help struggling families,’ he added.
The programmes in Canada and Australia prioritise employability and skills over family ties with visa applicants awarded points according to their abilities and they also have to take an English test.
A new order to replace the one that Trump had to withdraw due to a court challenge relating to the banning of people from seven mostly Muslim countries is expected within days. It is thought that Iraq will be taken off the travel ban list with Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen remaining.