The European Council is improving its Visa Information System, a tool that is used by the Member States authorities to register and check persons applying for a short-stay visa to enter the Schengen Area, as a response to migration and security concerns.
The Visa Information System (VIS), which has been operating since 2011, is a database that facilitates the procedures for the issuance of short-stay visas for the Schengen Area countries. The system helps border, visa, asylum and migration authorities to check nationals of third countries who need a short-stay visa to travel to the Schengen Area.
It also helps to connect consulates of the Member States around the world and the external border crossing points.
In a press release issued by the Council, it was revealed that the regulation amending the Visa Information System got adopted yesterday, on May 27, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
However, the legal act still needs to be adopted by the European Parliament to be fully effective.
The main objectives of the amending regulation are to:
- Further enhance the security of the short-stay visa procedure
- Incorporate residence permits and long-stay visas in the database of VIS
- Ensure compatibility between the VIS and other relevant databases and systems of EU
More precisely, VIS will be interconnected with the Schengen Information System, the Entry-Exit System, the European Travel Authorisation System, Europol, and Interpol.
“In recent years, the EU has consistently worked to improve controls of those entering the Schengen area, through the adoption of the travel authorisation system (ETIAS), the entry/exit system and the interoperability of databases. The update to the VIS is the next step in this direction. The new rules will allow for better checks of visa applicants to identify those who may pose a security threat or risk abusing our migration rules,” Minister for Home Affairs of Portugal Eduardo Cabrita said.
Based on the new rules, from now on, VIS will not only comprise information on short-stay visas but will also cover residence permits and long-stay visas as these documents permit free movement within the Schengen Area.
Prior to issuing a visa or residence permit, the new rules will also allow conducting thorough background checks on the applicants through the relevant security and migration databases.
Another planned change includes the digitalisation of the biographical data contained in travel documents.
Additionally, a facial image with appropriate resolution and quality will replace the current paper image. In order to fight child trafficking, the age requirement for children that need to provide their fingerprints will be lowered from 12 to six years old.