Visa Information System

The European Visa Information System (VIS) will be a database of fingerprints and facial scans consisting of all applicants for an entry visa into the Schengen group countries.

The system was established in June 2004 by the Council decision [ 2004/512/EC] . It is currently in the testing and build-out phases, with a set deadline for operation at the end of 2008. Latest information brings the implementation date into the Spring of 2009.

It is a visa information exchange system used by member states. The visa is issued after an application (stored for max. five years) is entered in the system; VIS functionalities operate on applications or visa decisions attached to applications. The system was planned to have two computer centres connecting 3,500 consular posts worldwide and 12,000 users in 30 participating countries (including non-EU countries).Some of the main objectives are of the system are: Facilitate visa application procedure and regulation procedure, contribute to prevention of fraud, threat to internal security of member states etc, facilitate checks at external border crossing points and within territory of member states, assist identification of listed persons.The bodies having access to VIS are: Consulates, police authorities from member states and Europol. Transfer of data to third countries or international organizations may take place only in an exceptional case of urgency, with the consent of the member state that entered the data

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