Switzerland bans most Vanuatu visa free entry over ‘golden threat’

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Vanuatu passports
Sale of Vanuatu passports ... post-2015 "golden" scheme "objectionable ethically, legally and economically". Image: Citizenship By Investment

RNZ Pacific

Switzerland will not allow visa-free entry for Vanuatu citizens whose passports were issued on or after May 25, 2015.

The ban will stay in place until February 3, 2023.

This follows a decision in March by the European Union’s Council to partially call off the visa waiver agreement with Vanuatu.

The EU had concerns that Vanuatu’s investor citizenship programmes, known as “Golden passports”, is a threat to the EU countries.

Switzerland’s Federal Department of Justice and Police, which works alongside the Swiss State Secretariat for Migration, stated that those with passports issued before May 25, 2015, are not affected by the decision.

Both the EU and Swiss authorities said Vanuatu has been granting passports to foreigners without proper security clearance, and this may represent a risk to public order and internal security.

In March, when the EU Council published its decision to suspend the visa-free travel agreement with Vanuatu, it highlighted that in many cases, authorities in Vanuatu had granted citizenship to applicants who were listed in Interpol databases.

The council also claimed applications were quickly processed without security checks, and those who obtained Vanuatu golden passports were not obliged to be physically present in Vanuatu.

The EU has also urged its member states operating golden passports to stop the practice, calling the schemes “objectionable ethically, legally and economically”.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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