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11 Oct 2011. Visa Information System starts operating today

Visa Information System starts operating today. Today, on October 11, in Lithuania, just like in other countries of the Schengen Area, the Visa Information System (VIS) for the exchange of visa data between the Member States starts operating.

“This is an important achievement in implementing the common visa system of the European Union. I am convinced that this system will have a positive impact on European migration and border control, bringing substantial improvements to the security of issuing visas and accelerating visa issuance procedures,” Minister of the Interior Raimundas Palaitis remarked.

Following introduction of VIS, the consular institutions and external border crossing points of the Schengen Area states will be connected to the central VIS database, which will store all information about submitted applications for a visa along with personal and biometric data of visa applicants (scanned fingerprints and facial images of individuals). Using VIS, frontier officials will be able to check the authenticity of the visa and the identity of persons arriving to the Schengen Area as well as scan their fingerprints and compare them against those stored on VIS. This will facilitate persons’ check at the external borders of the European Union (EU) and will improve security in the Schengen Area: it will take minutes to find out whether a visa was actually issued.

Plans are to start VIS activities in a few phases. Today VIS is starting to operate in the first region – from now on all the consulates of the Schengen Area states in Northern Africa will be collecting data relating to all visa applications in the region, including photos and fingerprints, and will transfer them to VIS. In the nearest future, VIS will be introduced in the Near East and Persian Gulf region. VIS will gradually start operating in all the consular institutions of the Schengen Area states.

According to Minister Palaitis, Lithuania is fully prepared to join VIS in the North African region. The Ministry of the Interior (MoI) partnered by the Information Technology and Communications Department under MoI, the State Border Guard Service under MoI, the Migration Department under MoI and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs successfully completed projects during which the Lithuanian national VIS was developed, tested and implemented in the technical infrastructure administered by the Information Technology and Communications Department using the financial resources of the EU External Borders Fund. Furthermore, the Visa module of the Aliens Register run by MoI was modernised.

The Member States and the European Commission have been developing the VIS project for several years. The central visa system will be created in parallel to the national systems of the Member States.