The European Union is expanding its biometric collection for visitors to the Schengen area, a multi-state zone allowing passport-free travel between its constituent states, most of which are EU members. Russian citizens seeking Schengen visas are now required to provide fingerprint biometric data.
It’s an understandable move given that Russia leads the other 18 countries participating in the Schengen visa program, with Russian citizens getting about a third of those issued. EU countries have recently been stepping up their efforts to secure borders in the wake of the ongoing refugee crisis, often with biometric identification measures – though national security and efficiency concerns also factor into the rationale. The implementation of mandatory fingerprint scanning at Schengen’s borders is a major component of these efforts.
In Russia, it will largely be implemented through Pony Express, one of the country’s major visa providers. It has 90 visa offices in Russia, with 40 of those already equipped with Futronic FS64 fingerprint scanners; and the company says it plans to have that technology at 60 of its offices by the end of the year. In a statement, Pony Express Visa Service Department Director Natalya Evseenko asserted that this technology allows customers to be scanned in “less than a minute” and added that it “meets all safety and technology standards, so we plan to continue equipping our visa centers with such scanners.”
November 11, 2015 – by Alex Perala