Kosovo nationals can now travel visa-free to the EU's Schengen zone, with the new rule effective Monday. This long-awaited change, significant for the 1.8 million people in Kosovo, marks a step towards wider recognition and EU aspirations.

Despite concerns over potential misuse, the Kosovo government is promoting responsible travel, with Prime Minister Albin Kurti addressing the first travelers under the new regime.

Kosovo Citizens Gain Visa-Free Access to EU's Schengen Zone
(Photo : Christian Lue on Unsplash)

Kosovo Nationals Can Now Travel to EU Without Visa

In a significant move, Kosovo has been granted a visa-free travel privilege to the European Union (EU). Starting Monday, people from Kosovo can visit the EU's Schengen zone without a visa. This zone allows passport-free travel across many European countries. The new rule applies for short stays, up to 90 days within a 180-day period.

This change is a big deal for Kosovo, a country in the Western Balkans with about 1.8 million people. Kosovo was the last country in this region to get this visa waiver. According to the Manila Bulletin, the decision is seen in Kosovo's capital, Pristina, as a big step towards being fully recognized by other countries. It's also a push for Kosovo's goal to join the EU.

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The European Commission, the EU's governing body, said Kosovo met all necessary requirements by 2018. These included managing its borders and handling migration. However, the plan was delayed. Countries like France and the Netherlands were worried about possible new waves of migration. Also, five EU countries - Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia, and Spain - do not recognize Kosovo's independence from Serbia. Serbia also doesn't recognize it.

Before this change, Kosovo passport holders could only visit 14 countries without a visa. Now, they have much more freedom to travel. But there are concerns. The government in Kosovo has been telling people not to misuse this new freedom. They're especially worried about people trying to find jobs in the EU.

Prime Minister Albin Kurti is leading this campaign. He will speak to the first group of people from Kosovo traveling without a visa. This event will happen at the Pristina airport on Monday. It marks a new chapter for Kosovo and its people.

Kosovo Faces Worker Shortage as Many Plan to Travel to Europe

Businesses in Kosovo are preparing for a shortage of workers in the coming months. This is due to a new rule that lets people from Kosovo travel to Europe more easily, starting Jan. 1.

Schengen Visa News reported that a big survey found that more than 80% of people in Kosovo want to travel this year. This excitement to see Europe could mean insufficient workers in Kosovo jobs. Liridon Hoti, who manages a company in the capital with over 40 employees, says this is already affecting his business. Workers are saving their time off for spring when they can travel to Europe. He plans to manage this by organizing work better and being more flexible with employees.

Schools in Kosovo are also facing problems. More than 300 teachers and school staff have asked for time off; some might even leave the country for good. Rrahman Jasharaj, a union leader, is worried that many won't return. He says this is partly because they are unhappy with their pay and work conditions.

An earlier survey showed that about 37% of people in Kosovo want to move to the EU, with Germany as the top choice. This new travel rule is a big chance for many, but it's also creating challenges back home in Kosovo.

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