EU states receive guidance on handling visa applications from residents of occupied Donbas
The European Commission and the European External Action Service have this week sent EU member states and non-EU Schengen countries guidance on how to handle visa applications lodged by residents of the non-Government controlled areas of Ukraine's Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
"The guidance document follows up on the European Council Conclusions of June 20, 2019 and the member states' requests for guidance on the identification and non-recognition of the passports issued as a consequence of the Russian presidential decree of April 24," reads a statement published on the European Commission's website on October 3.
In particular, the guidance sent provides a set of uniform treatment criteria to help member states' consulates to establish the actual place of legal residence of Russian passport holders, as well as details on how to process visa applications by residents of the non-Government controlled areas of Ukraine's Donetsk and Luhansk regions holding Russian passports.
In addition, the guidance will help ensure that EU rules on Schengen visas are correctly and consistently applied in the Russian Federation and Ukraine, taking also into account that Ukrainian nationals have the possibility to acquire Ukrainian biometric passports and travel to the EU without a visa.
Schengen visa applicants who legally reside in the non-Government controlled areas of Ukraine's Donetsk and Luhansk regions should lodge their visa application at member states' consulates in Ukraine, regardless of the travel document they hold.
Schengen member states should provide clear and comprehensive information on how and where to lodge a visa application.
"A set of criteria is provided to help member states' consulates identify the Russian passports issued to residents of the non-Government controlled areas of Ukraine's Donetsk and Luhansk regions. They may form the basis for a non-recognition policy to be implemented by member states in the exercise of their exclusive competence," reads the statement.
As UNIAN reported earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin on April 24 signed a decree on the expedited procedure for the issue of Russian passports to residents of temporarily occupied Donbas. On April 27, Putin said Russia could simplify the procedure for granting Russian citizenship to all Ukrainians – not only to those who reside in Russia-occupied districts in the east of Ukraine.
On April 29, a center opened in the town of Novoshakhtinsk in Rostov oblast offering services for issuing Russian passports to residents of Russia-occupied districts in Ukraine's Luhansk region.
On April 30, a similar center opened in Rostov oblast's village of Pokrovskoye to service residents of the occupied Donetsk region.
On June 20, leaders of European Union member states declared their readiness not to recognize Russian passports issued to Ukrainians in Russia-occupied Donbas.