Schengen visa costs for Belarusians depend on political trade

But the national visas are likely to remain. The leaders of the Vysegrad 4 (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) recently voiced their intention to abolish visa fees for the citizens of Belarus. The Polish Embassy in Minsk describes the statement as a political declaration.

It will be difficult to put what has been declared into reality. It is much easier to issue national (internal) visas by the new members of the Schengen zone agreement.

Every member state of the Schengen agreement reserves the right to issue national visas but these situations are clearly defined.

Monica Sadkowska, the spokesperson for the Polish Embassy in Minsk, noted that it was still early to say anything in concrete terms but the possibility was there.

“There is a possibility that such visas will be issued to certain categories of citizens, mainly those who need to travel to Poland frequently: businessmen, cultural exchange participants or those who have relatives in Poland”, she told the European Radio for Belarus.

Despite the high cost of Euro75 (against Euro60), this measure will give some citizens of Belarus to save the money. Different from the one-entry Schengen visa, the national visa will be valid long-term: one year or even longer.

The Czech Embassy has no information yet about the possible issue of national visas. Currently, it issues usual visas. The procedure is likely to continue till the beginning of the next year.

“As of today, we are still issuing. We don’t know what we will happen next…We have not received any orders,” an embassy staff said.

Darius Vitkavtas, an aide to the Lithuanian Ambassador in Minsk, explained the European Radio for Belarus that multiple year-long visas could be used for traveling to the Lithuania Republic only after the country enters the Schengen agreement. Those who hold this type of visa will not be able to travel the other Schengen zone countries.

As far as the Schengen visa is concerned, the situation is different. Mr Vitkavtas told ERB earlier that a Schengen-visa holder could enter any of the Schengen countries, but there are some conditions. If you obtain a Schengen visa from the Lithuanian embassy, you will be required to begin your travel from Lithuania. Later, you could continue to the other Schengen countries if you are able to explain your motives.

Will our citizens who hold a national visa be able to make a shortcut and travel to any of the Schengen countries, using just a national visa? Monica Sadkoska of the Polish Embassy is confident this option is ruled out.

“No. This is not possible, because this national visa will be valid only on the territory of Poland. It is hard to say how this will be controlled. But if this person tries to travel anywhere further using this visa, he will simply have problems in the country which he will try to enter”, she said.