GREECE – Visa Information System In Effect; Blue Card Yet to Be Implemented
The electronic Schengen Visa Information System has now come into effect for all Greek visa applications, meaning that, effective immediately, personal appearance is required for all first-time visa applicants except children under the age of 12. In other news, the Blue Card has yet to be implemented in Greece, pending the result of a Ministerial vote, which is not expected in the near future.
Visa Information System
The Visa Information System (VIS) is an electronic system which shares visa applicant information between Schengen member countries. It consists of a central IT system and of a communication infrastructure that links this central system to national systems. VIS connects consulates in non-EU countries and all external border crossing points of Schengen States. It processes data and decisions relating to applications for short-stay visas to visit, or to transit through, the Schengen Area. The system can perform biometric matching, primarily of fingerprints, for identification and verification purposes.
The main practical difference the VIS brings for visa applicants is that biometric data is now taken at the time of application for all applicants aged 12 and over: ten fingerprints and a digital photograph. If subsequent applications for visas to a Schengen member country are made within five years, the data can be re-used and personal appearance may not be required again.
Blue Cards On Hold
Greece has not yet implemented the Blue Card. EU Council Directive 2009/50/EC required EU member states (apart from Denmark, Ireland and the UK) to implement the new EU Blue Card for highly skilled workers by 19 June 2011.
Greece has published a new law, #4071, on 4 April 2012, concerning the incorporation of this directive into national law, but has included an article (#27) stating that a Ministerial vote should be held on how the law is implemented, specifically on determining a reasonable volume of non-EU nationals to be permitted to enter Greece under the highly skilled Blue Card route.
Since unemployment is extremely high in Greece (around 24%), the Ministerial decision is not expected to take place in the near future.
- Note that personal appearance is now required for Greece visa applications, unless the applicant is under the age of 12 or has given biometric data within the last five years. Procedures should be checked with the consulate or Embassy of application.