June 27, 2013
The Republic of Kosovo will implement a visa regime on July 1, 2013 for 87 countries. From this date onwards citizens of these countries will need to apply for a visa through the Diplomatic missions of the Republic of Kosovo in order to be allowed entry to the Republic. The 87 countries consist of all former Soviet Union republics if they are not EU members, African countries, Asian countries (including China and India), Caribbean countries and countries in South America. The full list of countries the new visa regime will apply to can be found here.
Republic of Kosovo
After the Yugoslavian war in 1999, Kosovo became an UN-governed province of subsequently the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Serbia and Montenegro, and finally Serbia, once Serbia’s union with Montenegro ended in 2006. In 2008 Kosovo declared itself independent from Serbia. Until this day the international community is still divided on the international recognition of Kosovo as independent state, but its sovereignty is recognized by over 50% of the UN member states, including over 80% of EU and NATO member states.
Since its declaration of independence citizens of any country were able to enter the Republic of Kosovo without a visa or entry permit and stay there for up to 90 days, provided they were holding a valid travel document, return ticket, sufficient funds and could demonstrate a reason for visiting Kosovo. However, due to its current visa-free regime Kosovo has been used as a transit country for trafficking of human beings and for illegal immigration towards EU countries. The Republic of Kosovo therefore expects that the implementation of the visa regime will have a positive impact both on the country’s own and on its neighbors’ security and on Kosovo’s path toward EU accession.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) recently announced that until the implementation of the visa regime on July 1, 2013, citizens of the 87 countries to which the visa regime will apply would need to apply for an entry permit through the Department of Citizenship, Asylum and Migration of the MoFA, at least 10 days before the planned arrival date, and would be allowed to stay in Kosovo for a maximum of 90 days.
Although Kosovo is planning to open up more consulates for visa applications in the future, as of July 1, 2013 visas initially will only be issued through the Kosovo Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. Any foreigner needing a visa to enter Kosovo will therefore need to submit an online request for a visa interview appointment at this consulate. A waiting period of 10 days from date of this request is expected for the appointment. Requirements have been confirmed, including, but not limited to, a valid passport, proof of reason for visit, travel details, health insurance and bank statements. However, estimated processing times for the visa application are not known yet.
As before, any foreigner who intends to stay longer than 90 days in Kosovo will need to report to the Directorate for Foreigners at the Kosovo Police.
Foreign citizens who are subject to the visa regime, but have a valid multiple entry Schengen visa, will be allowed to enter Kosovo and stay up to 15 days without applying for a Kosovo visa.
Lastly, starting May 8, 2013, EU citizens may enter, transit or stay in Kosovo for 90 days without a visa upon producing a valid EU Identification Card (in lieu of their passport).
ACTION ITEMS FOR EMPLOYERS
Employees who hold citizenship of any of the 87 countries published to fall under the new visa regime and with travel plans to or through Kosovo should note that from July 1, 2013 onwards it is no longer possible to enter Kosovo without applying for a visa. Please contact your Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Specialist for additional advice and assistance in case you or one of your employees has any travel plans to Kosovo.
Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader
This is provided as informational only and does not substitute for actual legal advice based on the specific circumstances of a matter. Readers are reminded that Immigration laws are fluid and can change a moment’s notice without any warning. Please reach out to your local Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist should you require any additional clarification. This alert was prepared by Carlijn Langeveld, Coordinator Knowledge Management. Pro-Link GLOBAL worked with our PLG | KGNM Correspondent Office in Eastern Europe to provide you this update.
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