Russian Travel Loophole to EU Schengen &amp, USA via Romania

Russian Travel Loophole to EU Schengen &amp, USA via Romania

Insiders told eTurboNews Romania had been a hidden opportunity for wealthy Russians to obtain Romanian citizenship due to questionable applications and payoffs. This is now opening up the entire Schengen region in Europe to such new Russian—Romanian citizens. Is this becoming a security risk in times of sanctions and war talks with Moscow?
Access to the USA
Romanian Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu said Romania will join the US Visa Waiver Program (VWP) in 2025. The program allows citizens of 41 countries to travel to the US for business or tourism for up to 90 days without a visa. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) administers the program in consultation with the State Department.
Romanian citizenship by descent is available to people with an ancestor born in modern-day Romania or a former Romanian territory, such as modern-day Bukovina, Bulgaria, Hungary, Moldova, and Ukraine. Romanian public authorities will investigate the application by checking the ancestor’s citizenship records or establishing the line of descent.
According to eTurboNews research, criminals often controlled by the Russian mafia or corrupt officials can efficiently manipulate such records, so EU passports from Romania can be issued to those who have the money.
Romania has allegedly allowed Russians and Ukrainians to buy EU Passports
A report suggests a fraudulent scheme exists, allowing individuals to bypass the waiting list and legal obligations for Romanian and EU citizenship. The Ministry of Justice in Romania is investigating numerous instances where Romanian passports have purportedly been granted to individuals without proper evidence of Romanian ancestry.
The scheme, as outlined in the Ministry of Justice report obtained by VICE News Romania, is believed to have facilitated the expedited acquisition of Romanian and EU citizenship. A significant number of Russian applicants, among others, allegedly benefitted from this process while circumventing legal requirements.
ACI, ETC welcome Romania and Bulgaria to Schengen
The Airport Council, ACI EUROPE, and the European Travel Commission welcomed the first stage of Romania and Bulgaria’s accession to the Schengen Area today as controls at air and sea borders were lifted.
However, passports or EU ID cards are still necessary when crossing land borders from and to Bulgaria and Romania due to Austria’s objections to granting full access based on illegal traffic by non-EU refugees.

Europe Travel Gets Pricier With New Schengen Visa Fee Hike

Olivier Jankovec, ACI EUROPE Director General, said: “Schengen is part of the fundamental fabric of European air travel, allowing a smoother passenger experience and more efficient operations with faster connecting times and streamlined checks. Facilitating travel for EU citizens in Romania and Bulgaria is an important step forward for Europe. It further strengthens integration and drives equality through the fundamental right to free movement. This development will have positive economic and social repercussions for local communities and the wider economy.”  
Eduardo Santander, ETC Executive Director, said: “Welcoming Romania and Bulgaria into the Schengen Zone by air and sea is key in facilitating seamless travel for locals and tourists alike. This offers a stellar opportunity to develop tourism in these two lesser-known destinations, which will benefit local communities, businesses, and the wider European tourism ecosystem. We hope that this marks the beginning of a swift journey towards full accession and that land borders will be lifted soon.”
Benefits for Citizens
The EU’s passport-free travel space is one of the most tangible achievements of European integration for its citizens. The Schengen Zone facilitates free movement between 27 countries, including 23 EU Member States. Removing barriers to travel between countries within the Zone has created a more seamless travel experience with shorter queues and less administrative burden. This is particularly crucial given the importance of intra-European travel for European airports and destinations. 
Integrating Bulgaria and Romania into the Schengen Zone by air and sea is a key step forward in improving connectivity between the two countries. This will level the travel and tourism playing field, allowing travellers to move between Bulgaria, Romania, and other Schengen Zone countries without undergoing passport or customs checks.
Dynamic Local Markets
Airports and air travel will be key drivers of closer integration between the newly minted Schengen countries and the wider community. Bulgaria and Romania have a considerably lower propensity to fly compared to the EU average (EU 1.69, Bulgaria 0.87, Romania 0.60), indicating an enormous untapped potential for air traffic growth. Both countries have also been at the forefront of the industry’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, posting dynamic growth well above pre-pandemic volumes (Jan 2024 vs Jan 2019: EU -3%, Bulgaria +7%, Romania +4.3%). Joining Schengen will give them a further boost while also driving the EU-wide air travel recovery.
David Ciceo, President of the Romanian Airport Association and ACI EUROPE Board Member, said: “Already in the remaining months of 2024, Romanian airports expect over 14 million passengers to travel within the Schengen Zone, representing 70% of all passenger traffic. Our region’s dynamic air transport growth means that figure will reach almost 21 million passengers in 2025.”SOURCE: Russian Travel Loophole to EU Schengen & USA via Romania BY: eTurboNews | eTN  

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