Rabat – The European Union will conduct an investigation into how Schengen visas were issued over the past twelve months in the Maghreb countries, including Morocco.
European officials are suspicious of the high numbers of successful visa applications in some consulates, reported Al Massae this weekend. The EU has identified many people who might have played a bridging role between visa applicants and consulates’ employees.
Among documents that are effectively targeted by controls are visa applicants’ bank statements. Durations of stays provided by consulates will also be under the EU spotlight.
The investigation will concern several employees of the consulates and embassies of European countries in the Maghreb. Some of these employees are of European nationalities.
Earlier this year, Moroccan authorities arrested members of a gang specialized in forging documents in Agadir after a complaint filed in court by the French Consulate in Agadir, reported Moroccan newspaper Al Ahdath Al Maghribia.
France’s consulate in Agadir decided to file a complaint after noticing that people who were provided visas to enter France had never returned to Morocco.
After conducting an investigation, the consulate discovered that some applicants who were rejected then successfully made second attempts using forged documents.
The Royal Gendarmerie forces were able to make an arrest of a visa applicant after the consulate complaint, finding their file was full of false documents.
After his arrest, the applicant revealed that there was an prominent document forgery mafia in Agadir. The gang’s members convince visa applicants, whose files had been rejected, promising them to make their applications eligible for a sum of MAD 70,000.
Morocco and EU Migration and Mobility Partnership
In 2013, Morocco and the EU signed a migration and mobility partnership, intended to ensure the movement of persons and facilitating the issuing of visas for certain groups of people, especially, students, researchers, and business professionals.
“One objective of the Partnership is to improve the information available to qualified Moroccan citizens on employment, education and training opportunities available in the EU and also to make mutual recognition of professional and university qualifications easier.
Another objective is to support the integration of Moroccan citizens who regularly visit an EU Member State,” said a statement issued by the EU in 2013.
Negotiation talks on visa facilitations were also held in 2015 between Morocco and the EU.
The European Commission said then that these talks only conceredn short-term visas (90 days) “since the EU is not competent for other visas whose rules are fixed on a national basis,” reported Maghreb Arab Press (MAP).
During the talks, Moroccan representatives presented the practical problems faced by Moroccan citizens when applying for visas, including the cost of the application procedure, the lack of recourse in case of refusal of the visa, and the delay in the issuing procedures.
However, EU negotiators said that any visa refusal case should be justified. They also pointed out that the possibility of appeal is provided by the European legislation in case of a refusal.