Visa-Free EU Travel for Ukrainians Supported, Welcomed by IOM

12 May 2017

Yesterday, 11 May 2017, the Council of the European Union approved visa-free travel for Ukrainians. It is expected that the visa-free regime between the EU and Ukraine will enter into force in early June.

Ukrainians who hold a biometric passport will be able to enter the majority of EU countries without a visa for 90 days in any 180-day period, for tourism, to visit relatives or friends, or for business purposes.

Visa-free travel for Ukrainians applies to all EU countries, except Ireland and the UK. Ukrainians will also be able to access non-EU countries Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland without a visa.

“This is a major achievement for Ukraine, and Ukrainians have long been waiting for this opportunity”, noted IOM Ukraine Chief of Mission, Manfred Profazi.

“Now we are standing by to help Ukraine get the best from visa liberalization that will primarily encourage regular temporary and circular migration, strengthen people-to-people contacts, including with diaspora communities in the EU, enhance business opportunities and cultural exchanges, and enable Ukrainians to get to know the EU better,” he added.

IOM has been supporting Ukraine on its way to the visa-free regime since the start of the EU-Ukraine dialogue in 2008. IOM’s assistance provided to Ukraine in the implementation of its Visa Liberalization Action Plan (VLAP) included analysis and recommendations for upgrading the migration-related legislation, procedures and institutional base.

IOM also provided training for officials dealing with document security and identity management, and helped Ukrainian law enforcement agencies and social institutions countering trafficking in human beings. Representatives of Ukrainian law enforcement agencies were trained by IOM on identification, documentation and prosecution of hate crimes which also was one of the VLAP requirements.

According to the State Migration Service of Ukraine, as of April 2017, some 3 million Ukrainians possess biometric passports which is a prerequisite for visa-free travel to the EU. A poll by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology shows almost one in ten adult Ukrainians have visited the EU over latest two years, mainly for vacation (29 per cent), business (28 per cent) or work (18 per cent). When visa free travel will be granted, Ukrainians polled by the Institute of Sociology with the National Academy of Sciences will use it mainly for tourism (27 per cent), searching for employment opportunities (20 per cent), and visiting family or friends (13 per cent). At the same time 43 per cent of Ukrainians will not be able to use visa-free travel, mainly due to lack of funds.