For the majority of Ukrainians the visa application procedure is a lottery. Schengen countries set quite high requirements for potential guests, and not many Ukrainians can meet them. At the same time Internet is full of propositions by various firms regarding "fast and without problems" execution of documents. It is obvious that it does not go without certain forgery of facts and documents. But if earlier foreigners in the EU with forged documents faced a fine and deportation, now they have all chances to get into a prison.

According to the decision by the EU court in response to the inquiry of the German Federal court, those, who got Schengen visa with the help of forged documents, face criminal responsibility.

Ukraine's Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleksandr Dykusarov explained that the German court was considering a case against a citizen of Vietnam, who forged documents for his fellows, introducing them as tourists, while they were coming to collect strawberry. German judges applied to higher authorities to learn whether they can sentence a foreign citizen for forged visas. It turned out they can. Hence, from now on they also can sentence those, who obtained visas legally, but lied to the embassy about personal data.

ForUm has asked MPs and experts what this decision means for Ukrainians:

Vitaly Kulik, political scientist:

- In such a way the European Union has simplified the punishment procedure for those who violate the visa regime. I want to remind that Ukrainians are not always honest with visa department of EU countries. But at the same time the EU still considers our citizens as potential illegal workers, migrants and so on. But there are also students, relatives, businessmen. I know a lot of cases, when serious businessmen were denied Schengen visas because of some private formality, like a property certificate.

Secondly, such innovation concerns not only Ukraine. In fact, there is nothing extraordinary, especially under the conditions of the global economic crisis. Europe just wants to protect its labour marker from external influence, as unemployment in Europe also keeps growing. We can speak about "bad" Brussels, but the question is simply about the fact that Brussels knows how to protect its economic and political interests.
Oleksandr Paliy, historian and political scientist:

- The EU has a right for sovereign migration policy. The EU is carrying out an active fight against unemployment and allocates big money for this. And citizens of the Third World countries, who don't want to work, come to Europe and try to get social financial assistance. Of course it disturbs Europeans, and taking into account the crisis, forces them to take drastic measures. I believe Ukraine should also carry out strict foreign policy regarding people, who give untrue personal information in the process of visa application procedure.

As for Ukrainians, they are labour force of Europe. Take for example Portugal or Czech Republic, which welcome out citizens.

I think that criminal responsibility will not touch the majority of Ukrainians, as our labour migration does not violate any rules.

Eduard Bagirov, lawyer:

- I think that such court decision is an attempt to scare off Ukrainians, who are involved into illegal forgery of documents. But they are not so many. More than 90% of Ukrainians obtain absolutely legal visas.

Consulate services of EU countries must check documents more thoroughly. If a visa is forged, it is a criminal responsibility. But if a visa is issued, and forgery is revealed already in another country, a number of legal problems appear, but they cannot be applied to a citizen of Ukraine.

For example, how are law enforcements of the EU going to take measures against our citizens? They have no right to put them in prison. If a pack of documents was forged in Ukraine, it is a violation of Ukrainian legislation, and such citizens must be processed in Ukraine.

Taras Chornovil, first deputy head of the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs, MP of Ukraine:

This decision does threaten Ukrainians, as, unfortunately, we have a big number of forged documents in the process of visa application. The second issue is that the list of documents, required by EU consulates from Ukrainians, falls beyond the scope of European legislation. And here our Foreign Ministry must defend the interests of Ukrainians, which it does not do, unfortunately.

In the visa application form an applicant signs under the article, informing on responsibility for giving false personal information. But this application forms must specify that giving false personal information leads to criminal responsibility. We don't have new application forms yet, and signing the application we agree with losing the right for a visa, but not criminal responsibility. In such a way Ukrainians will be able to defend their rights in court, including the European one.

I think that certain injustice pushes our citizens to lie. The EU looks at us as at potential migrants from Third World countries. For example, for a young unmarried girl it is almost impossible to get Schengen visa. Presumption of guilt is automatically applied to her, like she is going to do prostitution or something else illegal.

My piece of advice to Ukrainians - don't apply with false documents. Forgery is still a crime, not only abroad, but in Ukraine as well.

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