What is Schengen Visa Information System (VIS)?
If you want to learn about Schengen Visa Information System (VIS), this blog post will let you know everything about the VIS, its functions, categories of data stored on it, and more.
Schengen VIS serves as an online system that stores each visa applicant’s data, which include their alphanumeric data, digital photo and fingerprint.
Of course, all visa applicants’ data stored on the Schengen Visa Information System are accessible only by authorized persons and authorities. You’ll surely have so much to learn here with regard to Schengen VIS.
Let’s get started.
About the Schengen Visa Information System (VIS)
Schengen Visa Information System is an IT system that makes it possible for the 26 countries in Schengen Area to transmit data relating to visa applicants for identification and verification purposes. It has the ability to match biometric data, most especially fingerprints.
Besides, Schengen VIS helps to link consulates in non-European Union countries with all external borders of countries in the Schengen Area.
Functions of Schengen Visa Information System (VIS)
Indeed, Schengen Visa Information System has a wide range of functions. Check below to learn about the top five (5) functions of the Schengen Visa Information System (VIS).
- Schengen VIS facilitates security as it helps to conduct investigations, as well as to spot and hinder crimes, including terrorist activities.
- Besides, Schengen VIS assists with visa check and issuance. It is helpful to immigration officials in knowing if a traveler holds a genuine passport that rightfully belongs to him or her.
Moreover, it enables them to recognize persons who have been able to cross a border in Schengen Area without a valid visa or with a counterfeit traveling document.
- Schengen Visa Information System also helps to handle asylum applications in Schengen Area. As such, it assists in finding out which European Union country should be in charge of asylum applications.
- Another function of Schengen VIS is that it protects travelers from identity theft by recognizing persons who travel using someone else’s travel documents. This is possible via a biometric technology.
- Lastly, Schengen VIS helps to hinder and counter fraudulent activities, which include the act of applying for visa to enter other EU countries because your initial application wasn’t approved.
Categories of Data Stored on Schengen Visa Information System
Without doubt, Schengen VIS securely stores a variety of data relating to visa applicants of countries in Schengen Area.
Here are the categories of biometric data on Schengen Visa Information System (VIS).
- Alphanumeric data: These include visa applicant’s data, consisting of numbers and alphabets, such as their names, address and phone number.
- Photographs: Schengen VIS surely keeps the digital photo taken by visa applicants when submitting their application.
- Fingerprints: Another category of data stored on Schengen Visa Information System are your fingerprints. The fingerprints are reusable for not more than five (5) years whenever you want to apply for more visas in any country in Schengen Area.
This means that persons who travel regularly to countries in Schengen Area won’t have to provide a new biometric data until the 5-year period elapse.
If you’re a minor below 12 years old or you have a disability that makes it impossible for you to scan your fingerprints, you won’t have to provide ten (10) fingerprint scans.
At borders outside Schengen Area, the border or immigration officials may note any similarity in your fingerprints, with the ones stored in the database. If the fingerprints don’t match, you may still be allowed entry, but will go through extensive checks for identity.
Who is the operator of Schengen Visa Information System (VIS)?
All 26 countries in Schengen Area implement the Schengen Visa Information System (VIS). eu-LISA is the European Union Agency for the operational management of large-scale IT systems, including Schengen VIS.
Who can access Schengen VIS?
Generally speaking, different categories of people can access Schengen Visa Information System (VIS) for various purposes. These include visa authorities, asylum authorities, national authorities and Europol, as well as the authorities that conduct checks at borders.
- Visa authorities can access Schengen VIS to examine applications, as well as make decisions on them.
- Asylum authorities have access to Schengen VIS in order to find out the EU state in charge of checking asylum applications.
- Europol and national authorities can also request to access certain data from Schengen VIS. They need the data to curb and probe into cases relating to crime and terrorist activities.
- Another authority that have access to Schengen Visa Information System (VIS) are the authorities that execute checks at borders.
They need traveler’s biometric data to confirm their identity, visa’s genuineness, and if a traveler is eligible to enter or stay in a country.
How is Schengen Visa Information System (VIS) Implemented?
Visa and immigration officials implements Schengen VIS by scanning visa applicant’s fingerprints, as well as their digital photos. Hence, they scan all their fingerprints and take their digital photographs in order to create a biometric data for each visa applicant.
Are you wondering where your biometric data are stored? Schengen VIS are stored in a secure central database, together with the data filled out in the visa application form.
How is Schengen Visa Information System (VIS) Data Protected?
With significant assurance, your biometric data is safe on Schengen VIS. The database will no longer keep your biometric data after a period of 5 years.
Undoubtedly, visa applicant’s data on Schengen VIS is accessible only to authorized personnel. If you realize a wrong data about you on the VIS, you can request for its correction.
Where Does Schengen Visa Information System (VIS) Operate?
Schengen Visa Information System (VIS) functions in all countries that demands residents to apply for a visa to travel to any country in Schengen Area. The country also needs to have not less than one (1) embassy or consulate.
Keep in mind that Schengen VIS stated operating in each of these countries on different dates, as indicated below.
- Central and North America, the Caribbean and Australasia ~ Since May 2014
- Central and South-East Asia and the occupied Palestinian territory ~ November 2013
- China, Japan, and other surrounding countries ~ Since October 2015
- East and Southern Africa ~ June 2013
- EU’s Eastern Partnership countries ~ June 2015
- Gulf region ~ October 2012
- Near East ~ May 2012
- North Africa ~ October 2011
- Russia ~ September 2015
- South America ~ September 2013
- South Asia region ~ November 2015
- Turkey and the Western Balkans ~ September 2014
- West and Central Africa ~ March 2013
What is the Schengen Information System (SIS)?
Schengen Information System (SIS) is a system developed by countries in Schengen Area for the purpose of having a large-scale information system that is very effective. The system facilitates external border control and compliance with the law as the countries cooperate with each other.
In fact, SIS functions in EU countries, with exemption of Cyprus, the Republic of Ireland, as well as Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Iceland, which are the “4” Schengen-associated nations.
Nevertheless, Schengen Information System has a number of limitations to its usability in certain countries. These include in Croatia, Romania, and Bulgaria. However, the restriction only last until the countries turn out as one of the countries in Schengen Area.
Additionally, Ireland is in the process of executing preparatory activities to link with Schengen Information System (SIS).
On the other hand, Cyprus hasn’t linked to Schengen Information System due to its derogation (temporary) from being part of the countries in Schengen Area.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I stay in Schengen Area even when my visa has expired?
No, it is illegal for you to stay in any of the countries in Schengen Area if your visa has reached its expiration date. Regardless of if you still need to stay in Schengen Area, you must leave the country and apply for a new visa as soon as your visa expires.
Hence, it is best to apply for a new visa a week before the present one expires.
What happens if I overstay my Schengen visa?
A lot of severe complications can occur if you stay longer than the date stated on your visa. For instance, you may face a ban or deportation from traveling to or through Schengen Area.
How long can I stay in Europe with a Schengen visa?
With a Schengen visa, you can stay in Europe for up to 90 days in a period of 180 days. This is the maximum short stay offered by a Schengen visa.
How do I apply for Schengen visa extension?
It is impossible to extend a Schengen visa while in any of the countries, with certain exceptions. Therefore, you must leave the country before its expiration date, and apply for a new visa to return.
What do I need to apply for a Schengen visa?
To apply for a Schengen visa, you must hold a valid passport, 2 passport-sized photos, and a proof of funds. You’ll then have to fill out and submit the visa application form.
Above all, Schengen Visa Information System (VIS) is a central IT system that manages data relevant to visa applicants of all countries in the Schengen Area. Such data include your personal information, 10 fingerprint scans, as well as your digital photos.
If you think we missed something about Schengen VIS, you can comment below for WSV team to make necessary changes.
Thanks for reading!