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Rollout of the Visa Information System in NZ

Rollout of the Visa Information System in New Zealand

From 15 May 2014 all Schengen States' consulates in New Zealand will use the Visa Information System (VIS).

The VIS is a central database for the exchange of data on short-stay (up to 90 days in any 180-day period) visas between Schengen States. The main objectives of the VIS are to facilitate visa application procedures and checks at external border as well as to enhance security. Gradual worldwide deployment of the VIS started in October 2011.

The introduction of the VIS in a certain country has no impact on whether nationals of that country require (or not) visas for short stays in the Schengen area. As New Zealand is on the visa-free list (i.e. New Zealand passport holders do not require a visa to enter the EU), the VIS introduction will only affect people living in New Zealand who – due to their nationality – are under the visa requirement (e.g. a Chinese citizen residing in New Zealand).

For the purpose of the VIS, applicants will be required to provide their biometric data (fingerprints and a digital photograph) when applying for a Schengen visa. It is a simple and discreet procedure that only takes a few minutes. Biometric data, along with the data provided in the Schengen visa application form, will be recorded in the VIS central database. The recourse to biometric technology will protect visa applicants better against identity theft and prevent false identifications, which in certain cases lead to refuse a visa or entry to a person who is entitled to enter. It is used commonly in the EU to make travel documents more secure (e.g. for the issuance of passports to EU citizens including diplomatic passports holders).

Therefore, as from 15 May 2014 first-time visa applicants will have to appear in person when lodging the application, in order to provide their fingerprints. For subsequent applications within 5 years the fingerprints can be copied from the previous application file in the VIS.

Exemptions from the fingerprinting requirement are provided for:

• children under the age of twelve;

• persons for whom the collection of fingerprints is physically impossible;

• Heads of State and members of the national Governments, with accompanying spouses, and the members of their official delegation when they are invited by Member States' governments or by international organisations for an official purpose.

The VIS central database is very secure and data will be processed in accordance with the highest data protection standards. Data is kept in the VIS for maximum 5 years starting on the expiry date of the visa, if a visa has been issued; or on the new expiry date of the visa, if a visa has been extended; or on the date a negative decision is taken by the Schengen visa authorities.

Any person has the right to obtain communication of the data recorded in the VIS related to him/her from the Schengen State which entered the data into the system. Any person may also request that inaccurate data related to him/her be corrected and the data unlawfully recorded be deleted.

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