The visa requirement for short-term mobility has been identified as the most important instrument for the outsourcing of border controls, as it makes it best for states to easily distinguish, at a very early stage, legal and “desired” mobility from illegal and “undesirable” mobility (Bigo-Guild, 2005). Guiraudon, 2006). Nevertheless, border and migration researchers have neglected visa policy and their role in regulating global mobility in their research. The systematic use of visa policy as a means of controlling migration (Bé, 1998) has only received considerable scientific attention since the 2000s (Czaika, de Haas, Villares-Varela, 2017; Mau, Gulzau, Laube, Closing, 2015; Neumayer, 2006). Short-term visas are generally associated with tourists and businessmen and are therefore a generally privileged and legal way of travelling the world. But the visa application process takes place in embassies or consulates in the country of origin or legal residence and is the first meeting between a mobile person and the public authorities of his or her destination country. As a result, visa control has also been described as a “first line of defence” (Torpey, 1998, p. 252) or a “migration control front line” (Infantino, 2016, p. 5). For many potential travellers or migrants, this is the first and biggest obstacle to putting their projects and dreams into practice, such as immigration to Europe, a family visit or a holiday in a foreign country.
In addition, visa policy is particularly relevant to asylum seekers. Asylum seekers inevitably need territorial access to a safe country to assert their right to protection. This situation is often blocked by the outsourcing of controls, especially when they cannot apply for a visa for practical reasons such as financial means, lack of documents, security problems or distance from the nearest consulate (Lahav – Guiraudon, 2000; Laube, 2013). In particular, at the supranational and global political level, there is a growing emphasis on a “balanced approach” to migration management and the need for cooperation or partnership with other countries (Brouillette, 2018; Lavenex – Stucky, 2011). In 2011, the European Commission launched the “Comprehensive Approach to Migration and Mobility” (GAMM) and stressed the need to strengthen its external migration policy by establishing partnerships with third countries that address migration and mobility issues so that cooperation is beneficial for both sides” (European Commission 2011, p. 2). In addition, when the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants was adopted in 2016, the 193 MEMBER states of the United Nations recognized the need for a comprehensive approach to human mobility and enhanced global cooperation (IOM, 2018). Moreover, since the so-called refugee crisis, the important role played by third countries in the management of EU migration has been widely recognised, both politically and among sociologists (Lessenich, 2016); Zaiotti, 2016).