Today, 26 April 2023, France became the first country in the European Union to open a visa application center in Mosul, northern Iraq. The city was captured and used as administrative capital by the Islamic State armed group from 2014 to 2017, when it was finally retrieved by the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and affiliated armed groups.
The city currently hosts a Turkish consulate and UN and international NGO offices. But people who needed a visa to travel to France or the Schengen area in general had to travel around 500 km to the visa application center in Baghdad, as their nearest visa application center in Erbil only processes applications from people residing in the autonomous region of Kurdistan.
Now, that has changed. The news was publicly announced on the website of the French embassy in Iraq, which clarified that the visa application center in Mosul will work for both French or Schengen visa applications. These applications will be forwarded to the French embassy in Baghdad, and then returned to the applicants, without them having to go there in person.
“The opening of this center concretely reflects France’s commitment to Mosul and the province of Nineveh,” said Jean-Christophe Augé, who has been the French Consul General in Mosul since French President Emmanuel Macron designated him to this role on 16 May 2022. “This center will facilitate visa applications for residents, notably students, academics, businessmen, and tourists.”
The province of Nineveh’s Governor, Nejm al-Joubouri, pointed out that France is the first European nation to designate a consul general in the city.
Mosul is the second-largest city in Iraq and has a population of 1.5 million people.