Delegation of the European Union to Azerbaijan
Baku, June 19, 2015
Start of Operations of the Schengen Visa Information System (VIS) in Eastern Partnership countries, including Republic of Azerbaijan
As from 23 June 2015, the Visa Information System (VIS) will start operations at EU Member State visa-issuing consular posts in Eastern Partnership countries, including the Republic of Azerbaijan. The VIS is a central database which supports the exchange of data on short-stay visas among Schengen states' authorities, and in particular between consulates, central visa authorities and border guards. It benefits applicants by streamlining Schengen visa application procedures and will include the use of biometrics (fingerprints and a digital facial image) in the application process in order to facilitate the identification of visa holders and to avoid identity theft.
The head of EU delegation to Azerbaijan, Malena Mard, stated: "This new biometric technology will benefit the permanently growing number of Azerbaijani citizens who are frequently travelling, enable them to prove more easily the lawful use of previous visas, for instance when applying for a multiple entry visa. The procedures for issuing short-stay visas to the Schengen area will become clearer, more precise, transparent and fairer. This will contribute to facilitating people to people contacts between Azerbaijan and the countries of the Schengen area".
The EU Ambassador stressed that "the collection of biometric identifiers for visa applicants concerns not only the Azerbaijanis, but citizens of all countries outside the Schengen area once the roll-out of the system is completed in late 2015. Additionally, this procedure is not completely unknown, both EU citizens and Azerbaijani citizens already provide their biometrical data to make the national travel documents (passports) more secure".
The VIS comprises a central database supporting the exchange of data on short-stay Schengen visas. The VIS is being progressively rolled out in the different regions of the world since 2011. All Schengen states' consular posts worldwide will be connected to the VIS by the end of November 2015 and will collect fingerprints and digital photos for visa applications for stays of up to 90 days in any 180 days.
Visa authorities in all Schengen states will be able to consult the data registered in the VIS, for instance when the same applicant applies for a new visa. The VIS will contain all the applications lodged by a person and subsequent decisions taken by the visa authorities.
The procedure for the collection of fingerprints is simple, rapid and discreet. The applicant will only have to place his/her fingers on the surface of a digital scanner. When lodging subsequent applications within five years the fingerprints will not be taken again but copied from the previous application file in the VIS. After five years, data will be erased.
When the visa holder arrives at the external border, the Schengen states' border control authorities will verify his/her identity and the authenticity of the visa against the VIS. The visa holder may be required to provide his/her fingerprints for comparison with those registered in the VIS at the time of application. A negative result of the comparison does not in itself mean that entry will be refused, but leads to further additional checks on the traveller's identity.
Visa applicants must apply for a visa at the consulate of the European country in the Schengen area which they will be primarily visiting. There are 12 Schengen member states physically present and providing consular services in Azerbaijan: Austria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, and Switzerland. There are no Schengen consular sections outside Baku. The following Schengen countries are represented by other Member States as follows: Belgium (represented by France), Denmark (represented by Norway), Estonia (represented by Latvia), Finland (represented by Norway), Iceland (represented by Norway), Luxembourg (represented by France), Malta (represented by Italy), Netherlands (represented by France), Portugal (represented by France), Slovak Republic (represented by Latvia), Slovenia (represented by Latvia), Spain (represented by France), Sweden (represented by Norway).
For more information, please refer to the DG HOME website:
on the Visa Information System: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/borders-and-visas/visa-information-system/index_en.htm
on Schengen visas: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/borders-and-visas/visa-policy/schengen_visa/index_en.htm