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    Growing Number of Ukrainians See Schengen Visas Annulled at EU Airports

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    Ukraine's Foreign Ministry has noted that Schengen area countries have been rejecting Ukrainians' visa applications, noting that most of the rejections occur due to violations of Schengen Area rules, Ukrainian media have reported.

    MOSCOW, January 17 (Sputnik) — The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry released a statement Friday saying that European countries have been rejecting Ukrainians' applications for Schengen area visas, adding that visas are being annulled due to Ukrainians' violations of Schengen Area's rules, Ukrainskaya Pravda has reported.

    A statement from the ministry's press service noted that "we have seen a growth in the number of cancellations of Schengen visas for Ukrainian citizens. The procedure occurs at the airports of EU countries, resulting in border guards forcing Ukrainians to return home for violating Schengen legislation," according to Ukrainskaya Pravda.

    The Schengen area is comprised of most of the European Union's member states, although it also includes Switzerland, Norway and Iceland and excludes Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Malta and the British Isles.

    The vast majority of visa annulations are said to occur in Poland, where border control services have suspected Ukrainians of attempting to use the country as a transit point for travel to other countries, which is against Schengen rules. According to the rules, Schengen zone visa applicants must obtain a visa from the member country where the visitor intends to stay for the longest period of time during their visit. Polish customs officials are reported to have been rejecting Ukrainians for the absence of proof that they plan to stay in Poland, such as a hotel reservation, as well as the forgery of such documents.

    Ukrainskaya Pravda notes that the problem has also been prevalent in German airports.

    Ukrainian authorities have recently stated that attempts to use forged or fraudulently received Schengen visas may result in up to five years in prison.

    In December, Ukraine's Foreign Ministry noted that it has been working on the issuance of passports which would include the biometric data of Ukrainian citizens seeking a Schengen visa. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko expressed his hopes that "this is the last step which the EU is waiting for from Ukraine to grant us a visa free regime." He noted that he hopes that such an agreement may be signed between the EU and Ukraine at the May 2015 Eastern Partnership summit in Riga. Over 230,000 biometric passports are expected to be issued by then, Ukraine's First Channel has explained.

    Citizens of the EU have been able to travel to Ukraine without a visa for up to 90 days since 2005, when Kiev hosted the Eurovision Song Contest. However, security and economic concerns have left some Europeans leery at the prospect of a EU-Ukraine visa-free regime; the bloc already faces problems from countries such as Bulgaria and Romania, which still haven't join the Schengen area despite their entry into the EU in 2007 due to concerns over corruption, poverty and organized crime. Ukraine's Parliament signed an Association Agreement with the European Parliament in September 2014; the agreement officially came into force on November 1 of that year.


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