The European Union does not link its decision to compel Russian applicants for Schengen visas to be fingerprinted starting on September 14 to the ongoing political situation.
This decision bears absolutely no relation to politics or the sanctions; it is strictly technical, Soren Liborius, press secretary of the European Union Delegation in Russia, told Interfax.
Asked whether the decision might impact the number of Russian citizens visiting Schengen zone countries, Liborius said he did not expect any dramatic consequences. The system is in force in many countries worldwide, and its primary objective is to simplify the visa issue process, including the online one, he said.
Liborius confirmed that, starting on September 14, 2015, Russians would be issued Schengen visas on condition that they submit their biometric data.
The Schengen Visa Information System (VIS), to be launched in Russia on September 14, has been successfully operating in a number of regions, among them North Africa, the Middle East, South, Central and North America, Southeast Asia and Australia, since 2011, he said.
In fact, VIS is an electronic database of biometric information, he said.
It will provide a higher degree of personal data protection from unauthorized use, the European diplomat added.
He also said that the data would be stored for a period of five years.
Hence, Russian applicants for Schengen visas will have to be fingerprinted only once in that period while submitting their documents, Liborius said. He added that children younger than twelve would be exempt from fingerprinting.
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