VIS – A Common Information System for Schengen Visas
From the 12th of October Visa Information System (VIS) was introduced. Visa Information System (VIS)is a shared computer system for Schengen countries. The database will contain personal details, photographs and biometric information in the form of fingerprints of persons who apply for a Schengen visa. The reason for introducing VIS is to provide a simpler visa application process, facilitate checks at the external borders of the Schengen Area and improve security.
HOW DOES THE VIS AFFECT ME WHEN APPLYING FOR VISA?
Those who apply for a visa need to personally go to a foreign mission, embassy or consulate general, in order to be photographed and provide biometric data in the form of fingerprints for all of your fingers. The application is saved for five years. If you apply for a new visa within this five-year period, it may in some cases be possible to copy the fingerprints you provided for the previous application. When you subsequently travel into the Schengen Area, your identity and visa will be compared with the details that are registered in the VIS at the border checkpoint.
DOES EVERYONE HAVE TO PROVIDE FINGERPRINTS?
Most visa applicants must provide fingerprints, with a few exceptions. Those who are not required to provide fingerprints are:
• Children under the age of 12.
• Persons who for physical reasons are not able to have their fingerprints taken.
• Heads of state or government and members of national governments or their official delegations, when they are invited by the governments of member states or international organizations for an official purpose.
WHO HAS ACCESS TO THE VIS?
Missions abroad in the Schengen states will be successively connected to the central VIS database. Following regions has been connected to the VIS database:
Africa, Middle East, the Gulf region, South America, South East Asia, the occupied Palestinian territory and the external border checkpoints.
It is only authorized personnel at specially-designated authorities who have access to the VIS. They can enter, amend, delete and collect your details in the computer system. They use the VIS database when they need to:
• Examine visa applications and decisions in connection with them.
• Carry out controls at the external borders so as to check the identity of the holder and/or the authenticity of the visa.
• Identify and return individuals who are not entitled to be in the country.
• Facilitate the determining of which member state should be responsible for considering an asylum application.
The European Police Office (Europol) and national law enforcement agencies can request access to data from the VIS in order to prevent, detect and investigate terrorism or other serious crimes.
Information stored in the VIS is subject to strict rules for data protection, including Directive 95/46/EC and Regulation EC 45/2001.
• The data is kept for a maximum of five years.
• Every person is entitled to receive information about the details stored about him or her in the VIS.
• All individuals may also request that inaccurate data be corrected and that unlawfully registered information about him or her be deleted.
For further information, visit the website of the European Commission at http://ec.europa.eu/vis