What does visa liberalisation feel like for Kosovo citizens?
I have been trying to be excited about visa liberalisation for Kosovo citizens, including myself, but I just haven’t been able to. Maybe because it had been promised for so long by both our politicians and the EU – which then kept adding more and more requirements and conditions and at times totally unrelated to visas.
Anyways, Kosovo citizens FINALLY got it. Well, it’s going to start being implemented next year, on January 1st. Yeah, some more waiting but this is nothing. We are used to waiting!
European Parliament votes on Schengen visa-free travel for Kosovo citizens starting on January 1st, 2024. This long, overdue process slowly comes to an end.
Where should I go first 🤔 #KosovoVisaFree
— Kosovo Girl Travels (@XKGirlTravels) April 18, 2023
But I have been thinking how does this feel. And I think I’ve found out one way to describe it. Maybe not understandable for everyone but those who have gone through a situation like that would understand.
It’s like having lived or been in an abusive relationship (be it a marriage, family relationship, situationship, locationship, or any of the other -ships out there) with EU being the abusive partner. Every time we wanted to go somewhere we had to prove to our abusive partner that we will be back home – the work contract, the family ties, or the university studies we were undertaking. We had to prove to our abusive partner where we are going to stay – hotel booking: confirmed and paid and non-refundable. We had to prove to the EU, a.k.a. the abusive partner, that we had enough money and that we can survive. Every time, we had to go through the difficult talk of why are we going there, what will we do, and who are we going with. And of course, as with abusive partners, we had to prepare well in advance and have all answers ready so they don’t see a sign of uncertainty in our answers or behaviors to make them doubt our sincere desire to just go and visit someone or something and be back.
It was a stressful situation before the appointment, during it, and at the end when we had to wait for some time to know if we got the green light and for how long. Sometimes they’d be more generous and give us a longer period Yes which made us super happy and sometimes a short one of a few days but we had to take it and had nowhere to complain about (apart from social media through stories or posts either directly saying what was wrong or through songs and memes to let others decide what is going on).
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As a traveler, I have had to describe this abusive relationship to so many other travelers who had no idea what a visa application is, or that had no clue I need a visa to go anywhere in the EU, or that I can’t be spontaneous as they are and someday when I feel bored to just look for cheap flights and go anywhere.
The good thing is we are getting out of this abusive relationship FINALLY in some months but we still have other fights to fight. But one fight at a time, I guess.
It’s one thing if you need a visa for Australia or Japan, where one would hardly go on a whim. But quite a different if you can’t even explore most of your own continent, while other people can simply go to the train/bus station and set off. :/
I don’t think people from some other countries can ever quite imagine the hassle, because even when they do apply for a visa, it’s more of a formality (like when I apply for an e-visa for Azerbaijan or for ESTA in the United States). But with a German passport, I am really never suspected of overstaying (even though I have overstayed: https://andreasmoser.blog/2016/08/05/bolivia-overstay/ ) or working illegally (although many people do), and we aren’t usually asked silly and intrusive questions.
Many happy travels for you and all Kosovars!
Yeah, overstaying happens (I know of foreigners who have done it here in Kosovo also), or people who have worked while on a tourist visa. But this freedom that comes with having no need to apply for a visa is precious. Can’t wait for 2024 and then if some friend is planning to be somewhere I can just check a flight and join them and explore my continent together.