What The New Visa-Free Regime Means For Ukraine & The EU
11 June, 2017

On June 11, 2017 the visa-free regime comes into effect for Ukrainians travelling to the EU. This new regime allows Ukrainians holding biometric passports visa-free short-term travel to EU member states and the Schengen Area for purposes other than work. They can spend 90 days in a 180-day period there, excluding travel to the UK and Ireland.

How will Ukrainians use the possibility of visa-free travel? What are the conditions and restrictions? What does visa-free regime for Ukraine mean for Europe? Hromadske journalist, Volodymyr Yermolenko, explains it all.

The visa-free regime will affect only holders of Ukrainian biometric passports– those who without will need visas. It does not mean that all Ukrainians will go to Europe and go work there. There are limitations, particularly on the time spent in the EU– 90 days in a six-month period. Ukrainians cannot stay indefinitely in the Schengen Area.

Also, it does not give Ukrainians an automatic right to work. Ukrainians will need another visa for working in the EU.

The visa-free regime will primarily benefit the middle-class, who have the opportunity to travel around Europe. In general, Ukraine is not a country that supplies a large number of illegal immigrants to Europe, it has few asylum seekers. There were only a few hundred cases of Ukrainians being granted asylum in the past few years.

The visa liberalization is an opportunity for Ukrainians to gain knowledge about Europe, to travel more, and to bring European practices home.

The first “visa-free” train left from Kyiv to the city of Przemysl in Poland, carrying forty community activists, analysts, experts, artists and journalists on their first visa-free ride to the European Union.

This trip was a symbolic act to mark the first visa-free crossing into the EU and discuss questions of freedom of movement in the modern world, Ukraine’s journey to the visa-free regime and its importance for society.

This is how Ukrainians celebrated visa-free regime in Boryspil airport

The European Parliament handled the mandate to work on a flow chart for a visa-free regime for Ukraine back in 2010. On April 20, 2011 then President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, approved the document on implementing the plan for visa liberalization.

However, on November 28-29, 2013 at a summit in Vilnius the contract went unsigned and the EU integration process stopped. The Maidan Revolution, where more than a million people stood for European values and EU integration, took place in 2013-2014. Petro Poroshenko became the new president and he renewed Ukraine's pro-European direction.

After the Ukrainian government fulfilled the conditions for visa liberalization, the European Parliament started the process. This EU institution supported the proposition from the European Commission to grant a visa-free regime for Ukrainian citizens on April 6, 2017.