Poland: Immigration Bulletin – Use of “Visa Information System” At Schengen Border Checkpoints
Travelers entering or leaving Poland should prepare for longer border clearance process
Effective November 4, Poland is implementing the Schengen Visa Information System (VIS) at Schengen border points. The VIS is an electronic database which aims to strengthen and facilitate checks at external borders and enhance internal security within the Schengen area by closely monitoring the exit and entry of third country nationals, through the use of their biometric information.
The database will hold data on foreigners applying for Schengen visas and information on visa application itself – whether it was issued, canceled, revoked, extended, or denied release. The system includes biometric data – photographs and fingerprints of the person submitting the visa application.
As a first phase of implementation, Schengen consulates in North Africa (Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania and Tunisia) will be linked to the system. The VIS will progressively be rolled out in the different regions of the world such as the Near East (Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria) and the Gulf Region (Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen). Further Polish consular posts in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Malaysia will start the collection of biometric information.
The system will be implemented in all Schengen states within the next two years and the IT infrastructure will eventually connect over 2.5 thousand consular offices issuing Schengen visas around the world with Schengen border crossing points.
A visa applicant must appear in person at the consulate to provide 10 fingerprints and a digital photograph. The data is stored in the VIS for 5 years and may be re-used for any future Schengen visa applications. Children under the age of twelve are not required to provide fingerprints.
The VIS is to be integrated into the Schengen Information System (so-called SIS II), which in turn will replace the existing Schengen Information System (SIS I). This system was launched in Poland in September 2007 and it is a European database of wanted persons. Each Schengen state stores data which can be accessed by other authorized parties in order to facilitate protection of borders, visas issuance, as well as police search.
The Schengen Agreement was signed in 1985 and abolished control on internal borders between Member States. The Schengen Agreement has been accepted and signed by 22 countries of the EU (excluding UK, Ireland, Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus) as well as by Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
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