We as FIMCAP acknowledge the importance of international youth mobility and exchange among young people. Yet, during our last activities FIMCAP and also some of its member organizations were confronted with more and more difficulties and barriers due to visa regulations and procedures. E.g. the president of FIMCAP Africa could not attend at the last General Assembly of FIMCAP because he was denied to get a visa for traveling to Slovakia. Also exchanges activities were affected: E.g. several participants could not join the national camp “Krinkel” of Chiro Flanders and an exchange visit between Kiwo Haiti and Chiro Flanders could not take place due to visa problems. We were reported that a lot of other youth organizations have experienced similar problems. Thus, we as FIMCAP decided during the last General Assembly get active and to tackle the problem. During the General Assembly in Modra in 2013 we decided on a join statement.
Our exchanges and activities are very important, not just for us, but they also serve to foster democratic cooperation and to create common experiences which support peace, tolerance and understanding between young people from different cultural background. The purpose of our activities is to empower young people and to let them be critical and responsible agents of development. With our activities and networks we strengthen cooperation and solidarity of young people across borders, and find strategies to tackle global challenges with joint forces. It is important for our youth work to exchange knowledge, innovation and experience. There are many more reasons why youth mobility is important.
What FIMCAP has done so far:
- Mailing campaign: The European Parliament is currently working on a revision of the “Visa Code”. The Visa Code is the framework regulating the procedures for short-time (up to 3 months) visas in most of the EU states. The intercontinental and the European presidium of FIMCAP prepared together a mailing campaign to inform the members of the European Parliament about the need to improve youth mobility. We wrote 4 different drafts and sent in total several hundred e-mails to MEPs. We received several quite especially from the Social Democrats (S&D) and the Greens but also from the Liberals and the European People’s Party.
Click here to read what we proposed.
- Visit to the Vice-president of the European Parliament: On the 30th of June 2015 Liese (world president) and Bernd (vice-president of FIMCAP Europe) met with the vice-president one of the European Parliament, Ms Guillaume Sylvie (S&D), who supports our case.
- Networking: We have got in touch with other youth organizations who are confronted with similar problems. The European Youth Forum made during its last General Assembly youth mobility to one of its top priorities. We also talked with different Catholic organizations, e.g. with the initiative Christians for Europe. We are working closely with the European Youth Forum to achieve our goals. We are active in the workgroup Youth Mobility of the European Youth Forum.
- Collecting information: We have collected information about youth mobility. E.g. we drafted a fact sheet with arguments why it is necessary to improve the visa conditions in the EU and a selection of statements on visa issues from various youth organizations from all over Europe. We drafted a catalogue with concrete proposals.
- Preparing a photo campaign: We prepared a photo campaign, called Am I welcome? We hope many of you will join it!
How you can help us:
- Join the “Am I welcome?” photo campaign
Note: We want to be clear that the #AmIWelcome campaign is not related to refugees (though they could also ask this question) but only to young people who want to travel to another country to participate in a youth exchange, to visit friends, to study, to do an intern, to visit a conference, to go on holiday, etc. We fear that due to the refugee crisis in Europe at the moment and the reintroduction of border controls within Europe the mobility of young people will be even more restricted than before. With our photo campaign #AmIWelcome we want to show that travelling young people are not a thread but an enrichment not only for Europe but for all countries in the world!
- Tell us your story
Have you already experienced any problems with visas? If yes, it would be great if you could share your story (a short description of the circumstances and the problem) with us. These stories will help us to illustrate the need to improve visa regulations and procedures. You can also tell your story on the website of the European Youth Forum. Former FIMCAP Africa president Augustine Job shared his story, you can read it here.