Last Updated : Sep 4, 2023

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What is biometric data, and how does it differ from other types of data?

Ten fingerprints and a photo make up the biometric data. In addition, biometric passports and Schengen visas both use it.

When applying for a Schengen Visa, what biometric information do I need to provide?

The Visa Information System (VIS) of the Schengen Area has allowed the Schengen States to exchange visa data since 2011. As a result, biometric data, including 10 fingerprints and a mandatory passport-style photo, will be recorded in person for applicants who submit their initial application for a Schengen Visa. This is in addition to the non-biometric information you provide about yourself, such as your name, address, age, and sex, as well as specifics of your journey. You might be able to get some of this information from your biometric data passport.

What happens to my Schengen visa biometric data?

Your biometric data will be maintained in the VIS database and accessible for 59 months (5 years), so you won't have to submit it in person after the first time you apply for a visa. Border control authorities can use the VIS system to double-check your identity when you enter the Schengen Area. It will be kept in a database and made available to law enforcement officers.

Is there anyone who is exempt from submitting biometric information like fingerprints?

Children under the age of 12, people who are physically unable to provide fingerprints, heads of state or governments, members of national governments, including their spouses and delegation members, who are officially invited by Schengen governments are excused from giving biometric data. As previously stated, applicants who have already given fingerprints for Schengen Visa application(s) during the last 59 months (5 years) are not required to do so again.

Where should I send my biometric information?

Unless fingerprints have previously been acquired by the consulate, embassy, or visa application center for a previous application within the last five years, personal attendance at your interview is required. They may, however, ask you to resupply this information.

What method is used to acquire my biometric data?

Staffers will gather your biometric data in a discrete, non-intrusive, and rapid manner. For example, a digital camera will capture a facial image, while 10-digit fingers and thumbprints will be captured using a digital finger scanner.

When posing for your Schengen Visa photos, keep your regular haircut and avoid using sunglasses, dark optical glasses, or optical glasses with frames that obscure your eyes, as well as avoid flash reflection in your spectacles. Only images of the applicant wearing optical glasses with no reviews and both eyes visible will be acceptable.

A parent or legal guardian will be asked to obtain an agreement to collect biometrics if the applicant is between the ages of 12 and 18.

Visa Information System (VIS)

Technology has the potential to improve and strengthen exterior barriers. The EU has been establishing large-scale IT systems for collecting, processing, and sharing information related to external border management during the last few years. One of these instruments is the Visa Information System, which aids in implementing the EU's unified visa policy.

What exactly is VIS?

Schengen States can share visa data through the Visa Information System (VIS) (consolidated version). It comprises a central information technology system and a communication infrastructure that connects it to national systems. In addition, VIS connects consulates in non-EU countries with all Schengen States' external border crossing locations. Furthermore, it manages information and makes judgments about applications for short-term visas to visit or transit through the Schengen Area. For identification and verification, the system can do biometric matching, principally of fingerprints.

What is the purpose of VIS?

Border guards can use VIS to verify that a person presenting a visa is the rightful holder and identify anyone discovered on the Schengen territory with no fraudulent documentation. Biometric data can be used to validate a visa holder's identification, making checks faster, more accurate, and more secure.

Fighting Abuse: While the vast majority of visa holders adhere to the regulations, abuses do occur. For example, VIS will aid in detecting and preventing fraudulent activities such as "visa shopping" (i.e., the practice of making further visa applications to the other EU States when a first application has been rejected).

Travelers are protected by biometric technology, which allows for detecting those who use another person's travel documents and protects them from identity theft.

Asylum applications are aided by VIS, making it easier to discover which EU country is responsible for examining asylum claims and examining such applications.

Increasing security: VIS aids in the prevention, detection, and investigation of terrorist and other major criminal acts.

Who runs VIS and which nations utilize it?

VIS is a Schengen instrument that affects all Schengen countries (Denmark has decided to implement it). The operational management of VIS is handled by eu-LISA, the EU Agency for Large-Scale IT Systems.

Who is eligible to use VIS?

Competent visa authorities may consult the VIS to review applications and make decisions relating to them.

The authorities in charge of conducting checks at external borders and within national territories have access to the VIS to verify a person's identification, the validity of a visa, or whether the person fits the requirements for entering, staying in, or dwelling within national territories.

Only asylum authorities have access to the VIS to determine which EU State is responsible for the review of an asylum application.

National authorities and Europol may seek access to data entered into the VIS in specified circumstances to prevent, detect, and investigate terrorist and criminal offenses.\

What are security measures in place to protect my VIS data?

Access to VIS data is restricted to authorized personnel performing their duties. They shall ensure that the use of VIS data is prohibited to what is required, suitable, and proportionate for the completion of their activities.

For five years, data is retained in the VIS. This retention period begins when the issued visa expires when a negative decision is made, or when a decision to amend an issued visa is made. Any individual has the right to be notified about their personal information stored in the VIS. In addition, any person can ask for erroneous data about him or herself to be corrected, as well as illegally captured data to be removed.

Each EU member state must establish a National Supervisory Authority to oversee the country's personal data processing legality. At the European level, the European Data Protection Supervisor will keep an eye on things.