TIRANA (Albania), November 14 (SeeNews) – Schengen embassies located in EU candidate country Albania in 2017 rejected 93 uniform visa applications, an increase of visa denials by 79% year-on-year, as the European Commission noted an increase of Albanian asylum seekers, Schengen news publishing website SchengenVisaInfo.com said on Wednesday.
Some 1,383 Albanians sought a Schengen visa in 2017, as Italy, Greece and France were the most attractive destinations for visa applicants, SchengenVisaInfo.com said in statement emailed to SeeNews.
“These statistics come at a time when reports from Europe are displaying an increase in illegal immigration and asylum-seeking of Albanians toward EU countries, particularly toward France,” the statement noted.
According to SchengenVisaInfo.com, France was of particular interest for Albanians as the French embassy in Tirana received 138 Schengen visa applications last year, up from 55 applications in 2016.
“Albanians were amongst the largest group of citizenship-seeker in EU countries alongside Turkey, Venezuela, Cote D’Ivoire and Eritrea citizens,” the statement said, adding that France was their most popular destination.
In light of successive events of illegal immigration and concerning statistics, earlier in summer 2018, France threatened Albania for a removal from their free-visa regime if the influx of Albanian asylum seekers in the western-European country follows the same trend, it added.
In 2010, Albania joined the list of countries which enjoy visa-free travel regime to the Schengen block. This decision allowed the citizens of Albania to travel to the 26-countries block freely for business and tourism purposes for short-stay visits of up to 90 days without needing to pursue a visa beforehand.
In June, the Council of the EU decided to set out the path for opening accession negotiations with Albania in June 2019.
The Council granted Albania EU candidate country status in 2014.