Visa Information System
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (January 2010)|
The European Union Visa Information System (VIS) is a database containing information, including biometrics, on visa applications by Third Country Nationals requiring a visa to enter the Schengen group.
New applicants for a VIS Schengen visa have to travel to the nearest EU consulate to give their biometric information (10 fingerprints and a facial image), which is then entered into the system and remains valid for five years. Information is centrally stored in a database in Strasbourg (with a back-up site in Austria) allowing checks to be made at border crossing points that the person holding the biometric visa is the person who applied for it.
Two types of search are possible: verification and identification. Verification consists of a check, carried out by the separate Biometric Matching System (BMS) that the fingerprints scanned at the border crossing point correspond to those associated with the biometric record attached to the visa (duration approx. 2 seconds). Identification consists of comparing the fingerprints taken at the border crossing post with the contents of the entire database (duration up to 10 minutes).
All Schengen and Schengen-associated states will implement the system at all national consulates and official EU border crossing points within 3 years of the system going live. It is expected to contain some 70 million biometric records at full capacity.
VIS aims to prevent visa fraud and visa shopping by applicants between EU member states and to facilitate checks at external border crossing points and within territory of member states, assisting in the identification of listed persons. The bodies having access to VIS are: Consulates, police authorities from member states and Europol. Transfer of data to third countries or international organizations may take place only in an exceptional case of urgency, with the consent of the member state that entered the data.
- Summaries of EU legislation > Justice, freedom and security > Free movement of persons, asylum and immigration > Free movement of persons, asylum and immigration
- Council of the European Union > Schengen
- Regulation (EC) No 767/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 July 2008 concerning the Visa Information System (VIS) and the exchange of data between Member States on short-stay visas (VIS Regulation)