So called “third country” nationals (which will include Britons following Brexit) and citizens of countries that currently enjoy visa-free access to European Union and Schengen member states will soon be required to have ETIAS approval in order to enter the European zone. ETIAS, which stands for European Travel Information and Authorisation System, is not a visa but the information required when applying is very similar to that of a visa application forms only more detailed. Personal details as well as information regarding intended destinations will comprise part of the online application but there will also be questions regarding the applicant’s state of health and previous convictions for criminal or terrorist activity.
ETIAS application forms must be fully completed and all information supplied accurate, up to date and verifiable. The application forms will be thoroughly checked by the ETIAS Central Unit computers which will employ a pre-determined set of criteria to either grant or refuse approval. The following factors will likely lead to the denial of applicants wishing to travel to Europe with an ETIAS.
Incomplete Application - An oversight on the part of the applicant or a simple omission may result in a request from the ETIAS Central or National Unit for additional information or ask the applicant to correct any errors. Failure to reply to such a request within ten days will result in the application being denied.
Missed Interview - On rare occasions, an applicant may be asked to attend a personal interview or, if this is not possible, to answer questions via audio or video links. Failure to comply with this request is a valid reason for denying the application.
Suspicious Application - Refusal is certain if the ETIAS authorities suspect that information contained in the application form is inaccurate, false or intentionally misleading. The same applies to any supporting documents supplied with the application.
Invalid Passport - Any application will automatically be refused if the passport (or other travel documentation) has been flagged in the ETIAS system as being lost or stolen. The same applies to passports that have been invalidated by the Schengen Information System (SIS).
Existing SIS Alert - Applicants who have previously been refused entry to a European or Schengen country may have been flagged by SIS and this information will also be available to the ETIAS Central Unit as the two systems will be linked. This also applies to persons who have previously overstayed their allotted time on previous visits to Europe or Schengen states.
Based on the information contained in the application form and that stored in the ETIAS Central Unit database, certain individuals will not be granted ETIAS approval. Excluded individuals include those in the following categories:
- Terrorism risk: known terrorists and those suspected of involvement with terrorist groups
- Criminal risk: suspected criminals and those with convictions for serious crimes
- Immigration risk: persons who are suspected of planning to illegally migrate to Europe
- Health risk: disqualifying medical conditions will include a number of contagious or infectious diseases but a detailed list has yet to be completed and will be amended as situations arise.
Appealing an ETIAS Refusal
The vast majority of ETIAS applications are expected to be approved within minutes of submitting the form but a small percentage will fail for various reasons. A refusal is not final as the decision can be appealed and information and guidance regarding how this is done will be available from the ETIAS National Unit of the country where the application was lodged. A notice of refusal will give details as to why the application was denied and, if the applicant disputes these reasons, a new amended application may be submitted. The previous refusal will not automatically result in a second rejection as the new form will be assessed on the basis of any new information contained therein and treated as a totally new application.