New visa procedures

Last updated: 11/11/2015 // All diplomatic and consular Schengen missions in UK will introduce Visa Information System (VIS) on 20 November 2015. This System enables better data exchange between all Schengen member states. VIS eases application procedures and improves security. Since 2011, VIS is already established in most regions worldwide. By the end of 2015, all visa sections of Schengen countries in the world will be equipped with VIS. Applicants applying from 20 November 2015 for a Schengen visa will need to appear in person in order to provide biometric data (fingerprints and photograph). This is a simple a procedure.

To create more accurate processing and greater security in the visa process, Schengen member states will introduce Visa Information System (VIS) in UK from 20 November 2015.

The consequence for visa applicants is that first-time applicants have to appear in person when lodging their application in order to provide their photograph and fingerprints – biometrics. A person will not be issued a Schengen visa if she/he fails to provide biometric data.

What is VIS?

The VIS is a system for the exchange of visa data among Schengen Member States. These States share a common area of free movement without internal border controls. They have a common visa policy which includes exchanging information on visa applicants.

From 20 November 2015, all citizens requesting a Schengen visa will have to appear in person in order to provide biometric data (fingerprints and digital photography). This concerns the applications for the short-term Schengen visas (max. 90 days in 180 days).

Applications for Residence permits will not be registered in VIS.

For subsequent applications within next 5 years, the biometric data will be copied from the previous visa application included in the VIS in most cases, unless there is any technical requirement to obtain data again. After 5 years, the biometric data will be deleted and a new one will be required.

Only Children under 12 years, persons of whom the collection of fingerprints is physically impossible, sovereigns and other senior members of a royal family, heads of state and members of the national governments are exempted from the obligation of giving fingerprints.

The purpose of introducing VIS globally is to better protect applicants against identity theft and to prevent document fraud and so-called "visa shopping".

The VIS is connected to the national visa system of all Schengen States. Each Schengen State is responsible for the development, management, and operation of its national system. Strict data protection rules are defined in the VIS-related rules and are subject to control of national and European data protection authorities.

Visas issued before 20 November 2015 are still valid after 20 November. However, everyone applying after 20 November will have to give biometrics.  

Apart from the introduction of biometrics, there will be no changes in current procedures.

VFS Global Services will take the biometrics from applicants when they submit their applications. It is, however, important that applicants take into account that in the beginning, applying for visa at VFS will take a bit longer.

Access to VIS data is limited to authorised staff working for visa, border, immigration and asylum authorities for the performance of their tasks.

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