In a move to step up the fight against visa fraud, the Council has adopted conclusions on the architecture, functionalities and biometric identifiers to be included in the future European-wide database on visas.
The Justice and Home Affairs Council adopted its conclusions on the architecture and functionalities of the Visa Information System (VIS) on 19 February 2004. These conclusions will serve as a basis for the Commission to draft a regulation on the VIS. The VIS will contain extensive personal information supplied by people from around the world who apply for a visa to the EU Member States, such as:
- the applicant’s identity
- the type of visa in question: Schengen uniform visa or “national visa”, long or short term
- the status of the visa: visa requested, issued, formally refused, annulled, revoked or extended
- the authority that issued the visa (including border crossing points) and whether that authority issued it on behalf of another State
- the authority that formally refused, annulled, revoked or extended the visa and the grounds for doing so
- the record of persons who issued the invitations and who are held liable to pay board and lodging costs
- The digitised photographs, or original photographs of the visa applicants taken with a digital camera, will also be included.
The conclusions specify that, in a later phase, more elements (eg fingerprints, scanned documents) will be added to the VIS.
The VIS will be a two-tier system comprising a Central Visa Information System (C-VIS) and a National Visa Information System (N-VIS) in each Member State. Visa, immigration, police, and security agencies will all be able to search VIS provided that visa data are required for the performance of their tasks. However, only visa-issuing authorities can enter and update data. Information will be kept for “at least five years” after the decision on whether to grant the visa.