Not one single new application for visa-free travel in borderland

Not one single new application for visa-free travel in borderland

It as soon as was a showcase of easing travel restrictions between east and west, the standalone northernmost nook of Schengen-Europe.

Russians residing inside 30 km of the Russia-Norway border, together with the cities of Nickel and Zapolyarny, can nonetheless acquire native borders which permit them to travel visa-free to the opposite facet of the border for up 15 days beneath a 2010 settlement between the 2 nations.

The risk is there, however the curiosity in renewing such permits is near zero.

Norway closed its Consulate General in Murmansk on July 1st. Applications for native border allow, nevertheless, can nonetheless be delivered to the Embassy in Moscow.

“No new functions have been filed for the reason that workplace [Murmansk] closed on July 1st,” says Ragnhild Håland Simenstad, spokesperson with the Foreign Ministry in Oslo.

Those with out touring visas in the present day are holders of permits issued earlier than the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020. Russia lifted its Covid-related restrictions on land borders to Europe on July fifteenth.

Spokesperson Per-Jan Brekke with the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration writes in an e mail to the Barents Observer that final time such permits had been granted was in February and March this 12 months when three functions had been accredited.

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The Barents Observer has tried to get a remark from Russia’s Consulate General in Kirkenes on what number of Norwegians are making use of for comparable permits to travel with out visa in the border area. The diplomats, although, have blocked requests by e mail and the given telephone quantity is disconnected.

The Moscow Times on Monday reported that Russians are racing to visa facilities throughout the nation making an attempt to acquire a European visa amid fears extra nations would bloc leisure travel in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Norway’s Embassy in the Russian capital couldn’t instantly inform if there was a lift in visa functions since regular travel once more turned potential a month in the past.

Latest statistics by the Directorate of Immigration are from July and present that solely 365 visa functions had been delivered. A giant change, nevertheless, is a pointy progress in functions being turned down.

Traditionally greater than 90% of visa functions filed by Russians have been granted. In July, nevertheless, 32% of candidates had been denied a Norwegian visa.

Visa middle in Murmansk the place locals can apply for multi-entry visa to Norway. Thomas Nilsen

Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia have all not too long ago introduced restrictions on vacationer visas for Russians.

The solely different Schengen nation with a direct border to Russia and nonetheless issuing vacationer visas, in addition to Norway, is Finland.

Last week, the visa concern turned a sizzling potato on the desk as Nordic Prime Ministers met in Oslo.

“It isn’t proper that concurrently Russia is waging an aggressive, brutal warfare of aggression in Europe, Russians can stay a traditional life, travel in Europe, be vacationers. It’s not proper,” the Finnish Prime Minister, Sanna Marin, mentioned on the presser after the assembly.

Helsinki-Vaanta airport has this summer season turn out to be a gateway for Russians heading in direction of vacation locations in Europe. Shortly after Moscow’s army assault on Ukraine, most European nations closed the airspace for Russian planes and Moscow responded by closing Russian airspace for European airways.

Crossing the landborder to Finland offers easy accessibility to achieve widespread cities in southern Europe.

Unlike Norway, Finland will from September 1st restrict the variety of visa application appointments accessible in Russia every day to 500, half of the present regular, the nation’s Foreign Ministry mentioned in an announcement. Only 20% of all functions can be reserved for vacationers and 80% for Russians touring for causes apart from tourism.

In apply, which means there can be a mean of 100 appointments per day accessible for folks making use of for vacationer visas, which is 10% of the present quantity.

The Foreign Ministry in Helsinki concurrently introduced it helps efforts to achieve a typical EU coverage. “Finland is in favor of the whole suspension of the visa facilitation settlement between the EU and Russia, which might improve the visa application price from €35 to €80,” the Ministry made clear.

Ragnhild Håland Simenstad with the Foreign Ministry in Oslo says Norway won’t take an initiative like Finland to restrict visa choices for Russian residents.

“Norway is a part of the Schengen cooperation. We are due to this fact obliged to observe EU and Schengen guidelines,” she says.

Storskog border check-point. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

At Storskog, Norway’s checkpoint on the land border with Russia, the police in cost of immigration haven’t seen comparable site visitors of transit vacationers as Finland now are experiencing.

“There has not been any vital improve as now we have seen. A couple of, every now and then, heading for Italy, Germany and so forth, however no improve,” says immigration officer Sven Arne Davidsen.

Kirkenes airport, a quarter-hour drive from the border, has two or three direct flights to Oslo Gardermoen per day, from the place most bigger cities in Europe are related.

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