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Visa Information System (VIS) to Receive Update

Updated: Feb 12, 2019

On the 4 February 2019 the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs opened up a draft report on the Visa Information System (VIS): visa processing (COD) to vote in the Committee under the rapporteur Carlos Coelho. This vote was made jointly with the JURI Committee and adopted by 30 to 8, with 3 abstentions. The VIS has been operational since 2011 and has been helping via database to check third-country nationals who need a visa in order to travel to the Schengen area. By the end of 2017, there were 48 million visa applications with 41 million sets of fingerprints registered in the database, with 16 million short-stay visas being issued annually and around one million operations daily.

The VIS has been used to store issued visas, verify and identify persons found on Schengen territory with no proof of or fraudulent documents. The approved draft report by the LIBE Committee was created in order to reform the system, enabling it to better respond to evolving security and migratory challenges, as well as improve the EU’s external border management.

The LIBE Committee agreed to the following changes in the draft report:

  • Mandatory security checks across all databases to detect persons using multiple identities as well as anyone that poses security of irregular migration risks

  • The inclusion of long-stay visas, golden visas, and residence permits within the VIS database

  • Lowering the age for fingerprints and facial images of minors from 12 to 6 years in order to help identify and trace missing children

  • Enhanced structured access to Europol and law enforcement authorities to VIS for prevention, investigation, and detection of terrorist offences or other serious criminal offenders, as well as identify missing or abducted victims of human trafficking

As stated by rapporteur Carlos Coelho, the EU is “securing our territory before people reach our borders. We are enhancing the screening of third country nationals, including those with golden visas. We will have better tools for return. We will prevent child trafficking and better identify criminals and terrorists. This is a future proof VIS.”

Next steps

Indicative plenary sitting date is set for the 12th of March, 2019. The MEPs of the Civil Liberties agreed that the new rules will become applicable two years after their publication and that the EU-LISA agency will be responsible for the development and management of the upgraded VIS database.

Note on Brexit

It is important to keep in mind that last week on the 29 January, the LIBE also voted by unanimity to exempt UK nationals from visa requirements for short stays of up to 90 days in any 180 day period in the EU, under the condition that reciprocity for EU nationals will be ensured. However if the UK places visa requirements on just one of the EU states, the EU will place visa regulation on all UK nationals.



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