Schengen rejections are up only slightly from 2022, new numbers show FILE PHOTO. A picture shows a sign of “Parafe”, an automated border passport control at Orly airport, near Paris on July 6, 2018. © ERIC PIERMONT / AFP

Russia remained in the top five countries for Schengen visa applications in 2023 and almost 90% of the requests were approved, the European Commission has revealed.

The EU Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs published its annual report on Wednesday, showing that 10.3 million applications for short-stay visas were filed in the last calendar year.

That is a 37% increase compared to the 7.5 million requests in 2022, but still far short of the 17 million applications in 2019, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and the travel restrictions that accompanied it.

Russia was ranked second in 2022, with 687,239 requests, but slipped to fifth place last year with 520,387 applications, according to the EU. Slightly more requests were rejected last year, 10.6% compared to 10.2% the year before.

Russians had been the leader in Schengen applications before the pandemic, with over four million requests – and a rejection rate of only 1.5%.

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Several EU member states stopped issuing Schengen visas to Russians in 2022, citing the Ukraine conflict, but the bloc has held off so far on imposing a visa ban in twelve rounds of sanctions against Moscow. One of the additional sanctions currently under consideration would restrict the movement of Russian diplomats.

China rose to the top spot last year, with 1,117,365 requests, up from 22nd place in 2022. Türkiye ranked second with 1,055,885 requests, while India remained in third place with 966,687 applications in 2023. Morocco came in fourth with 591,401 applications.

Türkiye had a higher percentage of rejections than Russia at 16.1% in 2023, while a whopping 30.3% of all Iranian Schengen requests were turned down, according to EU statistics. (RT)