The ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) is a new completely electronic system which allows and keeps track of visitors from countries who travel in the Schengen Zone visa-free. This system is expected to be in place by 2021. Basically, it will decrease security concerns substantially through its information and data gathering system. The ETIAS will detect if a person is a threat in any way to the security of Schengen countries. However, ETIAS is only required from citizens of 62 specific countries who can enter the EU zone visa-free. Malta is not one of these 62 countries, and since a Malta residency-by-investment (RBI) grants a Golden Visa to anyone holding permanent residency by such investments, our prospect does not need to go through the ETIAS. Malta remains unaffected because it is both an EU and a Schengen member-state.
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How could the upcoming European travel information and authorization system impact my ability to travel freely to Schengen countries as a Maltese permanent resident?
Recently I heard that Schengen countries are going to introduce a travel information and authorization system. Traveler from countries that have visa-free access to the Schengen area will have to use this system to obtain a pre-clearance before entering Schengen countries. Last year I obtained a resident permit through the RBI program in Malta. Could my ability to travel in the Schengen area be impacted by this?
The European Commission, from 2021 onwards, will enforce the ETIAS on those citizens coming from a visa waiver jurisdiction. On Sept. 5, 2018, the ETIAS system was adopted by the council, and it can be defined as an electronic travel authorization system, such as the ETA (which is applicable in the U.S. and Canada), rather than a visa. Various individuals who have obtained their citizenship through a citizenship-by-investment program (CBI) will be affected by ETIAS. A €7 fee for ETIAS travel approval will be imposed upon those individuals who have obtained their citizenship through the CBI. Those individuals trying to access the border without an ETIAS will be denied. The jurisdictions which will be affected by the ETIAS are Moldova, Grenada, Samoa, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, Commonwealth of Dominica, Vanuatu, Montenegro, Antigua and Barbuda. The following passports obtained through a citizenship-by-investment program, will not be subject to the ETIAS: Cyprus (EU member), Malta (EU member), Bulgaria (EU member) and Turkey (visa required). The application process for the ETIAS is straightforward and quite clear. Those individuals who possess either a passport which permits entrance to the EU or else a CBI passport will be obliged to follow the following. A fee of €7 needs to be paid for every application submitted through the ETIAS system. The ETIAS is valid for three years, for unlimited admissions. The EU member-states which form part of the Schengen Area will be subjected to the ETIAS travel authorization, including Malta, and also those jurisdictions which do not yet fully apply the Schengen acquis, including Cyprus, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria. One of the benefits of the ETIAS is that when there is an application, the system examines the security databases, and produces a decision within a very short time. During the process of examining and assessing the data provided by the visa-exempt travelers, the ETIAS will automatically authenticate every application against the current EU information systems, which are the Visa Information System (VIS), Europol data, Eurodac database and Schengen Information System (SIS). The future EU information systems are the Entry/Exist System (EES), the Interpol databases which are the Interpol Stolen Lost Travel Document database (SLTD), the Interpol Travel Documents Associated with Notices database (TDAWN) and a dedicated ETIAS watch list and specific risk indicators. Malta is both a member of the Schengen Area and of the European Union. Those individuals who will be visiting Malta without an EU passport or else with a passport issued by a Schengen state will be required to obtain an ETIAS authorization, from 2021 onwards.