With the signing on 14 June 1985 of the Schengen Agreement, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands agreed that they would gradually remove controls at their common borders and int
Statistics published by the European Commission show that 15.2 million applications for short-stay visas were lodged at Schengen States' consulates in 2016, resulting in 14 million issued visas. The number of applications was 1.6% less than in 2015, declining for the third year in a row. The decrease was driven by an 8.4% drop in applications in the Russian Federation, coming on top of an almost 40% decrease in 2015. Nonetheless, the 3.2 million visa applications lodged in Russia still made it the top source country for Schengen visa applications. The volume of applications also declined for the first time ever in China (to 2.2 million, -8.2%) following the record set in 2015. Further decreases in Belarus (to 700 000, -7.6%) and Saudi Arabia (to 350 000, -6.0%) were only partially compensated by solid increases in applications lodged in Ukraine (to 1.4 million, +14.5%), India (to 800 000, +11.8%), Algeria (to 740 000, +1.2%), Morocco (to 560 000, +12.5%), Thailand (to 280 000, +9.2%) and Iran (to 220 000, +18.2%). The exemption from the visa requirement for citizens of Colombia and Peru that entered into force in late 2015 and early 2016 further contributed to the global decline in visa figures.
The percentage of applications that were refused varied widely and ranged from less than 1% to more than 35% in certain countries (Afghanistan, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal). Worldwide, 6.9% of all visa applications were refused, 0.7 percentage points more than in 2015. At the same time, 59% of all visas issued in 2016 allowed for multiple entries into the Schengen area, a considerable increase of 10 percentage points over the 2015 figure. The Commission does not collect data on the length of validity of these multiple entry visas.