VIS to start operations in the Western Balkans and Turkey

As from 25 September 2014 all Schengen States' consulates in the countries of Western Balkans and in Turkey start to use the Visa Information System (VIS).

VIS is a central database for the exchange of data on short-stay (up to three months) visas between authorities of Schengen States. The main objectives of VIS are to facilitate visa application procedures and checks at external border as well as to enhance security.

The European Agency for the operational management of large-scale IT systems in the area of freedom, security and justice (eu-LISA) is responsible for VIS in addition to two other systems: the Schengen Information System (SIS II) and Eurodac. The Agency manages VIS on behalf of its stakeholders who are the Member States and European Institutions in the benefit of the European public. eu-LISA performs its tasks by means of high-quality technology solutions to meet the needs of Member States most efficiently and securely for 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

The introduction of VIS in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo and Turkey follows its earlier successful deployment through several regional waves since 2011. The last roll-out took place in May 2014 to Central and North America, the Caribbean and Australasia.  The system will affect only those people, who are under the visa requirement. For the purpose of the VIS, applicants will be required to provide their biometric data (fingerprints and a digital photograph) when applying for a Schengen visa.  The collection of biometric data is a joint decision of the Schengen countries to better protect applicants against identity theft and prevent false identifications. Biometric data, along with the data provided in the Schengen visa application form, will be recorded in the VIS central database. The VIS central database is secure and data will be processed in accordance with the highest data protection standards of the EU.

Exemptions from the fingerprinting requirement are provided for:

  • children under the age of twelve;

  • persons for whom the collection of fingerprints is physically impossible;

  • Heads of State and members of the national Governments, with accompanying spouses, and the members of their official delegation when they are invited by Member States' governments or by international organisations for an official purpose.

Any person has the right to obtain communication of the data recorded in the VIS related to him/her from the Schengen State which entered the data into the system. Any person may also request that inaccurate data related to him/her be corrected and the data unlawfully recorded be deleted.

Background on eu-LISA

The European Agency (eu-LISA) has been established to manage large scale information systems in the area of freedom, security and justice.  It fulfils the operational management tasks for the second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II), Visa Information System (VIS) and EURODAC. The Agency thereby supports the implementation of the EU's border management, asylum and migration policies. The Agency is responsible for keeping all the IT systems, under its accountability, in permanent functioning to allow the continuous and uninterrupted exchange of data between national authorities using them. eu-LISA ensures that it applies the highest levels of information security and data protection to the information entrusted to it. The seat of the Agency is in Tallinn (Estonia), the operational management is carried out in Strasbourg (France) with the business continuity technical site in Sankt Johann im Pongau (Austria). The Agency was formally established in November 2011 and started its operations on 1 December 2012. The Agency is managed and represented by the Executive Director Mr Krum Garkov, who came to office on 1 November 2012.