For many years people fleeing from war zones and crisis areas have looked to Europe in search of refuge. But because an application for asylum can only be filed in person within the territory of an EU member state, thousands of individuals embark on dangerous journeys across the Mediterranean or the Balkans. One possibility that could enable a less risky passage to Europe would be to issue humanitarian visas. What would the humanitarian visa mean in practice and does it offer a meaningful alternative to current EU asylum and migration policy? This question was the topic of a conference entitled “Humanitarian visas and the external dimension of the EU migration and asylum policy,” which took place on 17 and 18 May 2018 at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology.