Morocco is the main African country to benefit from Schengen visas issued by France in 2023. Despite the 50% restriction applied over the past year by the French consular authorities, the North African country is the first on the African continent to now receive visas served by the French Republic.
This year 2023, normality returned to some extent to the French Embassy in Rabat as the regular issuance of Schengen visas was resumed. "The political decisions that were taken in mid-December, namely the return to normality in terms of visa issuance for Moroccan citizens, are well implemented," as the French Ambassador to Morocco, Christophe Lecourtier, pointed out, as reported by Afrik.com.
"Applicants are treated in the best possible way, both in terms of reception, but also in terms of speed and rapidity for the issuance of the diplomas they are applying for," said the French diplomatic official on Moroccan territory. Meanwhile, as reported by Afrik.com, the French consul general in Rabat urged visa applicants to avoid including intermediaries. In this regard, the responsible Sandrine Lelong-Motta urged visa applicants to avoid intermediaries who, according to her, charge applicants who wish to obtain an appointment. She also advised Moroccans wishing to obtain a Schengen visa to start the process a fortnight beforehand, as more than 800 appointments are open every day, as reported by Afrik.com itself.
French migration policy has hindered the entry and movement of Moroccan nationals to France over the past year. Paris announced the reduction of visas to certain countries such as Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia in 2021, and criticism came from these nations for the inconvenience caused and the rejection of visa applications on flimsy grounds.
Moroccan citizens from different walks of life complained over the past year about the difficulties in obtaining a French visa. "I am being deprived of the right to travel, something that is fundamental", a citizen who lived in France for 15 years said on the social network Twitter, as reported by Jeune Afrique. Another citizen, Hajar, also expressed her indignation via Middle East Eye: "This is the first time I have been denied a visa". She recalled that all her previous stays in the Schengen area had not posed any problems. "What risk do I represent for France? It is incomprehensible", she added.
The number of visas to be issued had decreased by 50%, following the announcement of greater restrictions on 28 September 2021, which was explained at the time by the French authorities as a measure related to Morocco's refusal to welcome nationals affected by deportation measures and who are expelled from French territory. Despite these restrictions, "Morocco was the first beneficiary in North Africa and Africa in general of visas issued by France in 2022", Christophe Lecourtier noted.
The issue took on a high profile. In November last year, the Moroccan House of Representatives received an important group of French politicians and businessmen for a round of contacts and to discuss some current issues between France and Morocco, and addressed this problem that affects both parties and their diplomatic relationship: that of reducing the number of visas issued by the French authorities by almost half.
"This issue of visas is important because it is directly related to the question of orders to leave French territory. And therefore we must be able to disconnect them from the visa issue. I believe that we can obtain a result on these orders by other means than sanctioning the issuing of visas", said Vincent Delahaye, vice-president of the French Senate, as the main representative of the group received by the Moroccan Chamber.
The Schengen visa is a permit to enter any Schengen country for a short period, for visits of a maximum duration of 90 days in a period of 180 days. A visa for a Schengen country allows travel to all Schengen countries, but must be applied for from the country that is the main destination of the trip or the one you travel to first if your stays in different countries will be similar.
The Schengen member states are the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Iceland, Italy, Austria, Greece, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Portugal, Poland, France, Sweden, Germany, Slovakia, Slovenia, Finland, Switzerland, Denmark, Czech Republic, Hungary and Estonia.
The condition for the visa to be granted is that the person concerned must leave the Schengen area before the end of the period of validity of the visa. In addition, the applicant must have sufficient financial resources to cover his or her stay and must specify the purpose of his or her trip.