We want consuls to deal only with technical issues, to put it bluntly, accepting the application and issuing the visa, said the then deputy head of foreign affairs Piotr Wawrzyk in December 2020 at a meeting of the parliamentary committee. In this way, he justified the introduction of the issue of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs taking over the processing of visa applications to the so-called special Covid law. As he said, “all this will eliminate the need for direct contact and creating crowds at consulates, especially in Belarus.”
On December 15, 2020, during the meeting of the Parliamentary Public Finance Committee, the first reading of the government bill amending the Act on special solutions related to the prevention, counteracting and combating COVID-19, other infectious diseases and crisis situations caused by them and certain other acts. One of the articles of this so-called special Covid law was devoted to… the issue of visas.
Visas in the special Covid law
The then deputy head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Piotr Wawrzyk, spoke at the meeting on this matter and responded to MPs’ doubts regarding the connection between the topic of visas and the problem of coronavirus.
– This is a comprehensive project that regulates visa issues comprehensively and relates to the Covid situation. These changes are placed at different points here, but they constitute a whole, Wawrzyk said at the committee meeting. – For legislative reasons, they are distributed in individual articles. However, they constitute a whole that aims to achieve this relieve consulates from meeting visa applicants and meeting again every time these visas need to be submitted, documents verified, and so on – he continued.
– We want to introduce this first Belarus (…), but this is due to one simple reason. At the moment, we have the highest visa traffic in Belarus due to the event that is taking place there, and that is why Belarus is listed as the first country. However, in the second step, of course, this will apply to all other countries, the second step will probably be Ukraine – he added.
Wawrzyk said that “the legislative office will probably have questions of this type that it is not entirely related to Covid issues when considering individual points.” – So I don’t know if it is technically possible to simply treat all these changes comprehensively and discuss them at one point, rather than returning to the same issue each time – he added.
– Sometimes a seemingly seemingly change that seems to have nothing to do with COVID turns out to have it – commented Henryk Kowalczyk, chairman of the parliamentary committee.
Wawrzyk: we want consuls to deal only with technical issues
Doubts on this matter were later raised by the Legislative Office during a meeting of the Sejm committee. – We have a general comment, which we also raised earlier, that it seems that this change is unrelated to the subject of the act – said the representative of the office. Attention was also drawn to the ambiguity of the provisions, related to the fact that the new regulations were divided into several points.
Wawrzyk referred to this issue again. – And this is exactly the problem I was raising when I proposed that all these provisions regarding visa matters be discussed at one point, because then a full picture of the regulations we want to introduce will be created. We, of course, in quotation marks, are exaggeratingly calling it the central visa authority, which means that the bulk of processing visa applications in every respect and in every aspect (…) should be in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and consuls to deal only with technical issues, to put it simply, accepting the application and issuing the visa. Full stop, he said.
– What’s the connection? Well, as I said earlier, all this will eliminate the need for direct contact and creating crowds in consulates, especially in Belarus at the moment – he added.
Main photo source: TVN24