Partial Suspension of Visa-Free Travel to the European Union and Schengen Countries for Vanuatu Citizens Proposed by the EU Commission

Published on: 13 January 2022

 

During a meeting on the 12th of January 2022, the European Union Commission proposed the partial suspension of the visa-waiver agreement with Vanuatu, after careful monitoring of Vanuatu’s Citizenship by Investment (CBI) program.

The Commission has concluded that individuals listed in Interpol’s databases were able to acquire Vanuatu citizenship. Since the Vanuatu CBI scheme started, there was only a single rejection up until 2020. The scheme’s average application processing time is also too short which made it difficult to perform a thorough screening of applicants.

A systematic information pathway between the applicant’s country of origin or an applicant’s past residence before citizenship is granted is also lacking. Moreover, some applicants who succeeded in acquiring CBI came from countries that are visa-required by the European Union and some even had countries of origins that were not included in other citizenship schemes.

The Commission deems the proposed suspension necessary for the prevention of serious security risks to the European Union and all its Member States. The proposal was made after careful and considerable exchanges with Vanuatu’s authorities, which included prior warnings about the suspension.

If the suspension is adopted by the European Council, it will not be lifted until the risks posed by the Vanuatu CBI scheme to the EU and all its Member States are either substantially reduced or completely eliminated. Once the reasons for suspensions are eliminated, the partial suspension will be lifted. However, if the reasons persist, there is the possibility under EU law that Vanuatu could be transferred to the list of visa-required countries.

Launched in 2017, Vanuatu’s Citizenship by Investment program gives foreign investors the opportunity to acquire a Vanuatu passport and a second citizenship in 2 to 3 months with an investment of at least US$130,000.

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