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Albania/Italy: Procedures, rights and obligations concerning Schengen visas delivered by the Italian embassy in Tirana to Albanian citizens

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 28 August 2002
Citation / Document Symbol ZZZ39808.E
Reference 7
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Albania/Italy: Procedures, rights and obligations concerning Schengen visas delivered by the Italian embassy in Tirana to Albanian citizens, 28 August 2002, ZZZ39808.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3f7d4e422d.html [accessed 18 December 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

The Schengen visa was originated in 1995 through the Schengen Agreement, which was signed initially by seven European Union countries in Luxembourg (Euro Visa 2002). Currently, there are 15 countries that have signed the agreement; these countries are now known as the "Schengen zone" (ibid.).

With a Schengen visa, one "may enter one country and travel freely. ... Internal border controls have disappeared; there are no or few stops and checks. This means that internal air, road and train travel are handled as domestic trips" (ibid.). Further, "[a] central database, common procedures and criteria for visa issuance and security" have all been introduced (ibid.). If one intends to visit only one Schengen country, one must apply at the Embassy or Consulate of that particular country, which is represented in the State of one's residence (ibid.). If, however, one intends to visit several Schengen countries, an application for a Schengen visa must be submitted with the Embassy or Consulate of one's main destination (ibid.). There are no deadlines for the submission of applications to obtain a Schengen visa; however, it is advisable that persons apply at least three weeks before their intended date of travel (Embassy of Germany Mar. 2001; Royal Netherlands Embassy n.d.; Consulate General of Italy July 2002). This length of time is required because once the application is submitted into the central database, all 15 Schengen countries must approve it before it can be issued (Embassy of Italy, Ottawa 27 Aug. 2002).

The fee for obtaining a Schengen visa depends on the time of year one intends to travel, the length of time that the visa is to be valid for, and whether it is to accommodate one entry or multiple entries (Embassy of Italy, Ottawa 20 Aug. 2002). For Schengen visas that accommodate visits of up to 30 days, the fee is EU$25 (ibid.). For visas that accommodate visits of up to 90 days and are for one entry only, the fee is EU$30, while for multiple entries, the fee is EU$35 (ibid.).

Once one acquires a Schengen visa and once customs and immigration are cleared at the first point of entry, free cross-border movement throughout the Schengen zone is permitted (EU 14 Dec. 2001). The Schengen visa is only valid for persons intending to visit the Schengen zone for a period not exceeding three months (Royal Netherlands Embassy n.d.). In other words, "neither the length of a continuous visit nor the total length of successive visits" should exceed three months "in any half year as from the date of first entry into the Schengen area" (Italy 25 July 1998). "Long-term visas (stay[s] longer than 3 months) are subject to the national legislation of the country of destination and should be applied for at the relevant diplomatic mission" (Royal Netherlands Embassy n.d.).

On 26 October 1997, Italy joined the Schengen Agreement and now issues Schengen visas (Embassy of Italy, Jordan 7 May 2002). The procedure and document requirements for obtaining a Schengen visa from any Embassy of the Republic of Italy are generally the same as those of embassies and consulates of any other Schengen country with minor variations (Embassy of Italy, Ottawa 20 Aug. 2002). Accordingly, the following documentation is required:

before applying, one must ensure that one does not already have a valid Schengen visa from any other Schengen country on one's passport (Embassy of Italy, Jordan 7 May 2002);

completed application form(s), signed and presented personally by the applicant (ibid.; Consulate General of Italy July 2002; Embassy of Germany Mar. 2001; Embassy of Italy, Ottawa 27 Aug. 2002);

one recent passport photograph (ibid.);

passport or official travel document which has a blank page to affix the visa and which has a validity that exceeds the intended stay of the applicant by at least three months (ibid.);

evidence to indicate sufficient funds to support oneself during the visit (i.e. recent bank statements, notorized letter from the bank, etc.) (ibid.); according to the Italian Embassy in Tirana, the applicant must have US $45 per day (Embassy of Italy, Tirana n.d.);

a declaration of "Interest of Returning to Albania" to indicate to the Italian authorities reasons why the applicant would have to return to Albania. Usually this is provided in the form of a work contract declaration, which is essentially a notorized letter from the employer, signed by the person who is in charge of the company, and contains the following: (1) the name of the applicant; (2) the applicant's employee number; (3) the level of work of the applicant (their title); (4) the period of holidays the applicant has been given; (5) the applicant's address, and (6) the applicant's salary. This must be supported by documents that declare the applicant as paying taxes in Albania. If an individual is enrolled in a profession (i.e. doctor, lawyer, etc.), they are required to produce documents of membership (i.e. member of the Law Association, member of the Medical Association, etc.). A person who is self-employed must produce documents of registration for paying taxes. A person who is retired must provide documents that declare the person as a pension recipient. Another "Interest of Returning to Albania" may be that the applicant is the owner of large or many properties in Albania, and therefore must return to tend to them. In this case, documentation establishing such ownership is required (Embassy of Italy, Ottawa 27 Aug. 2002);

original roundtrip airline or boat ticket (ibid.); and

one must produce evidence of accommodation (i.e. confirmed hotel reservations, vouchers, etc.). If the applicant intends on lodging with a friend or relative, the host must provide a declaration of guarantee (which is a notorized letter of invitation that declares their support of the traveller). In other words, they guarantee to provide accommodation for the applicant during his or her stay in Italy. In addition, this friend or relative is also required to provide documentation to show that he or she is legally residing in Italy (i.e. citizenship, documents establishing resident status in Italy, etc.). Finally, the friend or relative is also required to provide an extra guarantee that indicates that the applicant will not overstay the duration of the visa (ibid.).

Once the application procedure is concluded and the applicant is approved, the Schengen visa, which is a sticker, is affixed onto a blank page of the traveller's passport (Embassy of Italy, Ottawa 20 Aug. 2002). The applicant also receives a document that outlines his/her rights and obligations as they relate to the Schengen visa (ibid.). A copy of this document, which is the actual document given by the Italian embassy in Ottawa is attached for reference. According to the Embassy of Italy in Ottawa, there may be slight variations in the translation between the document given in Tirana, Albania and the one given in Ottawa, Canada, but the substance is the same as this is a standard document (20 Aug. 2002).

Insofar as the issue of Albanians applying for, acquiring and using Schengen visas in Italy is concerned, the Embassy of Italy in Ottawa has stated that an exit stamp placed in the passport at the Albanian customs is not required for the admission of a Schengen visa holder into Italy (ibid.). Further, a holder who decides at the last minute to postpone his/her trip to Italy after an exit stamp was placed in his/her passport by the Albanian customs may still use the visa to go to Italy at a later date (ibid.). According to the Italian Embassy, the visa is valid for a period of time specified directly on the visa, within which an individual can enter Italy as many times as desired provided that their visa is a multiple entry visa, and provided that the length of stay in total does not exceed 90 days within a six month period (ibid.).

Upon entering Italy, Italian customs officers will usually (though not always) stamp the Schengen visa with the date of entry at the border (ibid.). Sometimes a separate page in the passport is stamped (ibid.). According to the Embassy of Italy in Ottawa, the officer may choose to investigate other pages of the traveller's passport and may deny entry into Italy if he/she feels that it is justified (ibid.). In addition, "[e]ven if holding a Schengen visa, police officers at the border might ask for evidence of sufficient funds or for the relevant documentation regarding [one's] stay in Italy. Therefore, [one is] advised to carry... cash, credit cards or travellers' cheques, as well as all other documentation ... exhibited when applying for [one's] visa. The Italian border police may deny entry into Italy for any kind of suitable reason" (Embassy of Italy, Jordan 7 May 2002).

One point that should be noted is that the Italian government has been under pressure from its EU partners to tighten its border and interior controls to avoid being labelled as the "gateway to Europe for illegal immigrants," many of which come from Albania (Migration News Mar. 1998). In 1995, "[t]he governments of Albania and Italy announced a joint task force ... to deal with the problem of illegal immigration from Albania to Italy" (ibid. June 1995), and then in 1998, "[t]he Italian Prime Minister, Massimo D'Alema, and his Albanian counterpart, Pandeli Majko ... signed an agreement to increase co-operation in the fight against illegal immigration" (BBC 10 Nov. 1998).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.

References

[Accessed 15 Aug. 2002]

[Accessed 15 Aug. 2002]

[Accessed 15 Aug. 2002]

[Accessed 15 Aug. 2002]

Embassy of the Republic of Italy, Ottawa. 27 Aug. 2002. Telephone interview with the Consulate Attaché.

Embassy of the Republic of Italy, Ottawa. 20 Aug. 2002. Telephone interview with the Consulate Attaché.

Embassy of the Republic of Italy, Tirana. n.d. "Come Presentare Una Domanda di Visto." [Accessed 26 Aug. 2002]

[Accessed 15 Aug. 2002]

[Accessed 15 Aug. 2002]

[Accessed 15 Aug. 2002]

[Accessed 15 Aug. 2002]

[Accessed 15 Aug. 2002]

[Accessed 15 Aug. 2002]

Attachment

Embassy of Italy, Ottawa. 20 August 2002. "Notice/Avis." Correspondence received from the Consulate Attaché.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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