October 29, 2015 -
Starting November 2, the Schengen states will require all Indian visa applicants to visit the consulate or application center — in person — to provide biometric data such as fingerprints and digital photographs, according to a report by The Times of India.
Schengen states’ new visa information system (VIS) follows in the footsteps of other countries like the United States and Britain, who currently have this requirement in India.
Travel agents said the new biometrics submission requirement will be significant for a couple of reasons.
“A large number of Indians travel to Europe and Schengen visas are issued at very high fees for short durations,” said one Delhi-based travel agent who asked to remain anonymous. “Till now we used to send passports of our clients and get visas issued. Now they will have to go in person like they go for US and UK visas.”
The European Commission (EC) said that the new visa requirement “concerns the applications for short-term Schengen visas (maximum 90 days in 180 days),” as “the biometric data will be copied from the previous visa application” for all subsequent applications within next five years.
“Apart from that, there will be no change in the current procedures such as visa fee or forms,” the EC said in the document. “However, the applicants should be aware that due to provisions of biometric data, which might cause at the beginning some disruptions, the first visit to their respective Schengen State Consulate after November 2, 2015 might take a little bit longer.”
The EC said that the global VIS system is designed to “better protect applicants against identity theft and to prevent document fraud and so-called ‘visa shopping’.”
Additionally, all children under 12 years of age will be exempt from submitting their fingerprints along with “sovereigns and other senior members of a royal family, heads of state and members of national governments (with their official delegations and spouses) if they travel for official purposes.”
All Indian citizens who currently have valid Schengen visas will also not be asked to submit fingerprints on arrival in Europe.