As of 26 July 2021, Bulgaria and Romania have been successfully connected to the
Visa Information System (VIS) for passive (read-only) access, allowing them to view visa applications and access e-mail services, allowing for smoother visa processing.
VIS is one of many large-scale IT managed by eu-LISA in its mission of safeguarding the Europe's internal security. VIS facilitates the exchange of visa data between Schengen States, allowing national authorities to enter and consult data, including biometrics, for short-stay visas in the Schengen Area, with the aim of combating "visa shopping" and irregular migration.
At the moment, Bulgaria and Romania are not part of the Schengen Area, however having read-only access to VIS will support them in the implementation and usage of
EES, the Entry/Exit System, another large-scale IT system that will record entry and exit of third country national to and from the Schengen Area in order to increase automation at border checkpoints and to prevent irregular migration. EES, expected to enter operations in the first half of 2022, will also mean digitalising the current practice of manual passports stamping.
The integration comes after both countries successfully completed a series of technical tests required to connect to the system. The project, managed by eu-LISA and covering design, development and testing of the passive mode at central and national level, kicked off in 2019. Bulgaria and Romania will be able to see the visa history of an applicant and to verify the validity and authenticity of Schengen visas issued by other Member States against the data stored in VIS, helping prevent fraud and fight serious crime and terrorism.
Full access to the Visa Information System would become possible once Bulgaria and Romania would be fully integrated within the Schengen area. The
European Commission has reiterated its call on the
European Council to take the necessary steps for Bulgaria and Romania to become part of the single area without internal borders controls in the new
Schengen Strategy presented in June this year. Croatia, another EU Member State that is not yet part of the Schengen Area, is currently in the testing phase and is expected to gain passive access to VIS in 2022.
Map of VIS Users