Serbia announced the introduction of visas for citizens of India and Guinea-Bissau from January 1

Serbia announced the introduction of visas for citizens of India and Guinea-Bissau from January 1

Under the new rules, Indian citizens who intend to enter Serbia on or after January 1, 2023 must first apply for a visa at the Serbian Embassy in New Delhi or in their country of residence.

This measure is being introduced by Belgrade in an attempt to align its visa policy with that of the EU and prevent illegal migration.

Prior to these changes, holders of Indian passports were not required to complete a questionnaire and apply for a visa to enter Serbia for up to 30 days within one year.

The Embassy clarified that those citizens of India who have a valid Schengen visa, UK visa, US visa, or residence permit in these countries can enter the Republic of Serbia without a visa for up to 90 days within a six-month period and within the validity period of said visas or residence permits.

In addition to India and Guinea-Bissau, Serbia has abolished the visa-free regime with Tunisia and Burundi.

In recent years, Serbia has experienced a sharp increase in the number of refugees from different countries, especially Cubans — their number has increased from 36 to 339. However, the record flow comes from Turkey. The growth from 1,653 to 6 186 citizens of this country has alarmed both Serbia and the European Union.

Moreover, the number of arrivals from India has increased dramatically during this time — from 557 to 4 469. This is the result of the actions of the Belgrade authorities aimed at preventing the country from becoming a migration gateway.

Turkey, India, Tunisia, Cuba and Burundi account for 2.5 percent of illegal border crossings recorded during 2021 on the Western Balkan Route, which has increased by 20 percent this year.

Now Currently, Serbia has visa-free agreements with Azerbaijan, Armenia, Bahrain, Bolivia, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Qatar, China, Cuba, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Oman, Suriname, Turkey and Jamaica. In addition, citizens of Russia and Belarus can travel to Serbia without a visa for up to 30 days.

The European Union external border security agency Frontex reports that 61 percent of 36,500 crossings boundaries registered in October 2021 — this is a total of 22,300 detections — were recorded on the Western Balkan route, the most affected route in the last three months. Most of the “guests” who arrived — from Burundi, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The same Western Balkan route has the highest number of illegal border crossings since 2015, when the migration crisis peaked.

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