The European Union Fully Suspends Visa-Free Agreement with Vanuatu
In a press release published on 8 November 2022, the European Council announced that it will totally suspend the EU’s visa waiver agreement with Vanuatu from 4 February 2023.
The agreement had been partially suspended on 4 May 2022, after the EU’s Commission proposed the suspension on 12 January 2022 due to security concerns related to Vanuatu’s citizenship schemes for investors.
Vanuatu has investor citizenship schemes with extremely low rejection rates. This caught the attention of the European Union’s authorities, who have been investigating these “golden passport” schemes in the South Pacific country since 2017.
According to the EU Council, some successful applicants of Vanuatu’s citizenship schemes for investors were listed in Interpol databases. Others were from countries whose nationals are required to obtain a visa in order to travel to the European Union, so getting Vanuatu’s citizenship could become a way to skip those protocols. The Council stated that this could pose a risk for the European Union.
The EU Council also highlighted the short processing periods of applications to Vanuatu’s investor citizenship schemes and the lack of information exchange between Vanuatu and the applicant’s country of origin or residence. Plus, it criticized the lack of residence requirements or physical presence in Vanuatu to apply for one of its investor citizenship programs.