New Visa Database Launched

12 Oct 2011


Immigration News

On the 11th October the Schengen countries launched a new joint visa database, the Visa Information System (VIS). This system will help streamlining the application process and at the same time make it easier to avoid identity fraud.

As of the 11th October, 25 Schengen countries and Liechtenstein have access to a joint visa database, VIS. This database will contain information about everyone who applies for a Schengen visa as well as details about their case.  

Preventing identity fraud

– VIS will make it easier to make checks on applicants and avoid that the visa system is being abused, for example by avoiding that someone applies for visas under several different identities, explains UDI Director Ida Børresen.

In addition to the usual personal data, everyone that applies for a visa must provide ten fingerprints and a digital photo. This is called biometric data. The information, fingerprints and the photo will be saved in the VIS database for up to five years. In this way, the visa authorities can check whether the applicant has previously applied under a different name.

The border control in Norway will have equipment for scanning fingerprints and checking that the person entering the country is in fact the same person who applied for the visa.

Easier for frequent travellers

VIS will also simplify the application process for travelers who previously have visited a Schengen country.

– They will be able to receive a visa to visit Norway because we can see in VIS that they have previously received a visa to another country and have abided by their visa regulations,  says Ms Børresen.

It will also become easier for travelers to get issued a replacement visa if their passport has been lost or stolen. 

North African applicants in first group

The visa information registration scheme will be introduced on a “group by group” basis. The first group of applicants that the system will cover will be applicants who submit their applications to the embassies in Cairo, Rabat and Algiers. Within two to three years, the scheme will cover visa applicants from all countries.

The fingerprints, photo and personal data will be registered at the embassy when the application for a visa is made. Duly authorized personnel at the visa authorities, border control and the department that deals with identification of asylum seekers will be able to search in the database. Only the visa authorities may save, correct or delete information in the VIS database.

In addition to identity checks, the use of biometric data can also offer the possibility for other schemes. Several countries are testing out  automatic/self service border control stations.


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