The visa freedom fighters – Fighters for an emancipated Europe

By | September 29, 2011 at 10:04 pm | European Bodies

Did you ever have the feeling to be rejected, not to be selected, or just to be treated with less respect than others? Did you have the feeling that this happened only because of your origin, nationality, or legal status? Thousands of Europeans from the Eastern or South-Eastern part of our continent experience this feeling every year. They try to apply for a visa for the Schengen zone or for other countries with restricted visa statutes. Probably everybody in AEGEE has heard of a friend or a fellow AEGEE member who has had trouble receiving the precious stamp in their passport that gives them access to any country of the Schengen zone. And probably everybody has heard of cases when the applicant had to cancel a flight and even had to pay the full participant fee of an event because the visa application stranded in the notorious bureaucracy of the issuing authorities. Self-defence against illegal immigration is the official reason for this wearisome procedure. What might be true and reasonable in a few hundred cases, demonstrates pure discrimination and violation of human rights in the other hundreds of thousand cases. While most young citizens of the member states of the Schengen zone do not even know anymore what a visa actually is, millions of Eastern Europeans are confronted with it on a daily basis. The implicitness of being able to travel wherever and whenever we want is a luxury that still not all Europeans can enjoy. This invisible wall is nowhere more visible than in a transnational student organization like AEGEE. And no one understands the absurdness better than the members of AEGEE. Therefore it is especially our responsibility to break this wall in our heads and to fight for a Europe without limitations.

The VFWG has the goal to raise awareness of this so often ignored issue. It prepares and places helpful documents for the visa procedure at the disposal of  all AEGEE members, for example invitation letters in many different languages. It also helps with difficult visa cases and intends to train and establish a pool of visa experts that know every possibility to steer around visa problems. Officially, the VFWG is a working group of AEGEE. However, its working format resembles that of a committee. What is the difference between a working group and a committee? A working group is a thematic group that strives to start new projects within AEGEE like to Flagship Project and to work on a certain topic. The activity of the Working Groups can vary strongly due to projects. A committee on the other side is supposed to support the organisation and especially the CD with basic structure work, such as the Academy or the IT Committee. The VFWG is a mixture of both; it supports the whole organisation in visa issues similiar to a committee, while it also organises single events (one is planned this winter in Ukraine), smaller projects like the “Postcard Project”, and it tries to establish partnerships with other student organisations such as ESN. The main purpose of the VFWG is to help fellow AEGEE members from countries that have visa restrictions. However, the members of the VFWG originate from many different countries. Many members are actually citizens of one of the Schengen zone states. This shows how big the solidarity amongst members of our organisation is and how similarly this topic is seen by students from both Non-Schengen and Schengen countries.

written by the Visa Freedom WG

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