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Kazakhstan, EU Collaborate to Streamline Visa Process for Kazakh Citizens

By Vusala Abbasova January 30, 2024

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Both sides reiterated their commitment to fostering friendly relations in the consular sector following the meeting. / Kazakhstan's Foreign Ministry

Kazakhstan and the European Union (EU) are advancing plans to facilitate travel for Kazakh citizens intending to visit the member states of the European Union.

On Saturday, Kazakh Deputy Foreign Minister Alibek Bakayev and the Ambassador of the European Union to Kazakhstan, Kestutis Jankauskas, met to discuss the second round of formal consultations aimed at simplifying the visa application process.

According to the press service of the Kazakh Foreign Ministry, the primary goal of these discussions is to streamline the European visa regime. This involves reducing consular fees, extending visa validity periods, decreasing the time required for processing applications, and establishing a unified list of required documents for obtaining a visa.

Both sides reiterated their commitment to fostering friendly relations in the consular sector following the meeting.

In 2017, Kazakhstan unilaterally introduced a visa-free regime for citizens of all EU states with the aim of promoting business cooperation, tourism, and people-to-people contacts. This regime was reinstated in 2022 following a two-year hiatus caused by the global pandemic.

In October 2023, Aibek Smadiyarov, an official from the Kazakh Foreign Ministry, revealed that the European Union had shown “great interest” in establishing a visa-free regime with Kazakhstan. However, the current focus is on reducing the visa processing time, given the complexity of dealing with 27 individual member states.

The enhanced partnership and cooperation agreement between Kazakhstan and the EU, effective since 2020, laid the groundwork for initiating negotiations on visa facilitation. The agreement underscores the mutual commitment to fostering people-to-people contacts and facilitating travel exchanges.

Kazakhstan currently holds bilateral agreements on mutual visa-free travel with nearly 20 countries, including several post-Soviet states. These agreements allow citizens varying lengths of stay, with some permitted to remain for up to 90 days, subject to specific registration requirements.

Additionally, Central Asia’s largest and wealthiest country unilaterally launched a visa-free program in 2014 to further develop the tourism industry and attract investments from around the globe. Although Kazakhstan’s vast hydrocarbon and mineral resources remain the backbone of the economy, the government has long been working to reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuels.

As part of the initiative, Kazakhstan offers a unilateral visa-free regime for citizens of 54 countries. They can stay in Kazakhstan without a visa for up to 30 calendar days at each entry, while the number of visits is unlimited. However, the total period of stay under such visits should not exceed 90 calendar days within a 180-day period. Foreign citizens can visit Kazakhstan for tourist, private, and short-term business purposes under a visa waiver. Business trips may include meetings, negotiations, and contract conclusions, as well as participation in conferences and forums.

Kazakhstan also introduced a unilateral visa-free regime for citizens of China, India, and Iran, who can enter and stay in Kazakhstan without a visa for up to 14 calendar days since border crossing, while the total period of stay in the country under the visa-free regime should not exceed 42 calendar days within a 180-day period. Visits for business, private, and tourist purposes are allowed under the visa-free regime.