The European Union will carry out an investigation on how Schengen visas were granted over the past one year to all the Maghreb countries.
Morocco World News quotes Al Massae as reporting that European officials became suspicious of disproportionately high numbers of visa applications being approved in some consulates. The EU is said to have identified people who could have been complicit in connecting visa applicants and employees of consulates.
To be under the scanner are bank statements of visa applicants and duration of stay that consulates have provided.
Many employees of the consulates and embassies of European countries in the Maghreb will be probed. In fact, some of them are said to be nationals of European countries.
In early 2017, authorities of Morocco arrested members of a gang, which specialised in forging documents in Agadir, following a complaint filed by the French Consulate in a court in Agadir, said Al Ahdath Al Maghribia, a Moroccan newspaper.
The French consulate in Agadir filed a complaint after discovering that people who were issued visas to enter France did not return to Morocco.
An investigation by the consulate found that some people, whose applications were rejected the first time, filed again successfully after using forged documents.
A visa applicant was arrested by the Royal Gendarmerie forces after the consulate complained, as it found that their documents were fake.
The arrested person then revealed the presence of a high-profile document forgery mafia in Agadir. It is said that the members of this gang convinced unsuccessful visa applicants to make their applications seem authentic for a sum of MAD70, 000.
Morocco and the EU inked a migration and mobility pact in 2013, with intent to facilitate the movement of people and helping in issuing visas for certain groups of people, particularly researchers, students and business professionals.
The EU in 2013 said in a statement that one of the aims of the partnership was to enhance the quality of information available to qualified Moroccan nationals on the opportunities available in the EU in education, employment and training and also to enable easier mutual recognition of professional and academic qualifications.
It added that another aim was to support the assimilation of Moroccan nationals who regularly visit an EU country. Morocco and the EU also held negotiation discussions on visa facilitation in 2015.
At that time, the European Commission said that these talks were only applicable to short-term visas since the EU was not a competent authority for other visas whose rules are laid down by individual countries, according to Maghreb Arab Press.
When the talks were being held, representatives from Morocco spoke about the practical problems that the nationals of Morocco were facing when they applied for visas such as the application procedure costs, what they should do in case their visas are refused and issues in delay of issuing procedures.
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