Lebanese passport holders know the struggle of applying for a visa inside-out. Despite the fact that the Lebanese passport doesn't grant visa-free access to many countries and ranks 82nd in the world, travel and exploration have become an escape of some sort for many nationals.
Lebanon is flanked by a country at war to the North and East, an enemy to the South, and the sea to the West; its stumbling economy and turbulent internal politics only add insult to injury. So feeling a little claustrophobic in a 10,452-km² land is only natural, which is why many Lebanese explore other countries as frequently as they can. Luckily, many European nations are only a few hours away by plane.
Data shows that Lebanese nationals have been exceptionally keen on acquiring a Schengen visa in recent years. The interest in the stated visa has increased by 20.7 percent from 2014 to 2018, with 637,112 Schengen visas granted to Lebanese passport holders during that time.
Over this period, Lebanon came in as the country that produced the most visa applicants, Granit Sadiko, news editor at SchengenVisaInfo, wrote in an email to StepFeed. Sadiko explained that they analyzed the latest data from the European Commission to pinpoint the status of Lebanese citizens with regards to the Schengen visa.
But it wasn't without rejections.
In 2018 only, over 155,000 visa applications came in from Lebanon via Schengen embassies, consulates, and visa service providers — the highest number authorities have ever witnessed regarding Lebanon. That year saw a 2-percent increase in the number of visa applications from the previous year, which noted the submission of 152,620 visa requests. To put things in perspective, 128,975 applications were submitted in 2014; a total of 113,239 visas were actually issued and 13,156 were denied.
The rejection rate has since increased quite dramatically.
It went up by 36 percent in 2018 when compared with 2017. Last year, a total of 18,889 Schengen visas were denied to Lebanese nationals; a total of 135,431 visas were issued. In 2017, the rejection rate was at 9.1 percent, with a total of 13,880 rejections.
The lowest-ever rejection rate was recorded in 2016 at 7.5 percent. At the time, a total of 142,130 visa applications were submitted.
Over the course of 2018, Lebanese nationals seemed to be quite interested in visiting France, with a total of 58,844 visa applicants, followed by Italy (22,934), Greece (17,862) and Spain (17,863). Countries like Slovakia (300), Norway (544), and Hungary (1,002) are among the least intriguing for Lebanese nationals, it seems.
France has ranked No. 1 among Lebanese nationals between 2014 and 2018. We'll have to see if it's still No. 1 in 2019.
Schengen Area is a borderless zone in Europe, which is inclusive of 26 countries, 22 of which are EU countries. These nations have abolished their internal borders for the free and unrestricted movement of people.
To enter this territory, nationals of many countries need to obtain a Schengen Visa, which allows its holder to remain in the Schengen area for various purposes such as tourism, business, and other short-term trips.