Immigration: Number of Asylum Seekers Using Visa-Free Travel to Enter the EU Is on the Rise

Immigration: Number of Asylum Seekers Using Visa-Free Travel to Enter the EU Is on the Rise

Did immigration issues drive us to Brexit? What is the word on the streets right now?

Asylum SeekersThough the number of new refugees coming to the EU has fallen to pre-2014 levels, the number of asylum seekers using the right of visa-free entry to the block is on the rise.

According to a report of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), while the overall applications continued to fall in 2018, citizens from several countries, including some visa-liberalized countries, lodged more applications than in 2017.

In 2018, there were 25% fewer applications lodged by Syrian nationals, however they remained the top country of origin. The number of applications for asylum by Turkish nationals rose up by 48 % from 2017.

The report highlights that the number of nationals using visa-free travel rights to enter legally in the EU, increased in 2018, in comparison to previous years.

“In 2018, close to one fifth of all applications were lodged by nationals from countries exempt from visa requirements to enter the Schengen Area, including Venezuelans, Colombians, Georgians. This was a much higher share than in previous years,” a press release on the report reads.

The report explains that in 2018 nationals of visa-liberalized countries filed some 115,000 applications, up by 30 % compared to 2017.

“This means that almost 20 % of all applications for asylum in the EU+ were lodged by third-country nationals who were able to enter the Schengen area visa free, by far the highest concentration in recent years. The majority of visa-exempt applicants were citizens of countries located in Latin America or the Western Balkans,” the report says.

It further explains that the EU+ countries jointly issued 593,500 first-instance decisions, 40% less than in the previous year, but still considerably more than during the pre-crisis period. One-in-three decisions made in 2018 was positive, granting either refugee status or subsidiary protection. The highest shares of positive decisions were for nationals of Syria, Yemen and Eritrea. Whereas the lowest shares of positive decisions were for Georgians and Gambians.

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