September 20, 2012 -
As part of the Visa Information System that was introduced by the European Commission, all diplomatic missions from Schengen zone countries will start recording biometric data from visa applicants from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) starting October 2.
Visa applications will now include fingerprint and facial image scans. The French Embassy has currently adopted the process. Finland and Switzerland are in the process of following suit.
Currently, an average of 4,000 visa applications are being processed per day. During peak season, a total of 11,000 visa applications are processed. About one million visa applications have been processed so far through Europe’s Visa Information System.
Since October 2011, the Schengen member states have started to connect the Visa Information System region by region. The Visa Information System allows Schengen states to exchange visa data for short-stay or transit visas, by connecting the data systems of diplomatic missions in non-EU countries with all external border-crossing points across the region.
Countries that are part of the Schengen zone include non-EU countries, namely: Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland; and all European Union member states except for the UK, Ireland, Romania, Bulgaria and Cyprus.
Because of the Schengen cooperation agreement that allows for the free movement of persons and goods between member states, over 400 million Europeans enjoy the luxury of passport-free travel across the Schengen zone.