Information-supported decision-making


The Netherlands

Policy areas

Organisation name Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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Contact person: Ilse van der Lei, Project Secretary

The Information-supported, Decision-making (IOB) project was introduced to ensure that decisions on issuing short-stay Schengen visa applications by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs could be taken more efficiently and more objectively. Thanks to this initiative, citizen applications are processed in shortest time possible, providing positive responses for visa applicants when possible. This allows more time for visa officers to focus on more complex applications that may involve risks.

The Application Assessment Protocols Database (BAO) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was developed. The BAO makes it possible to automatically provide all known and useful information for visa officers to issue short-stay visa applications. Visa officers process visa applications in the New Visa Information System (NVIS). NVIS consults the information held in its own system (data history and Member State data) as well as information held on the applicant or host in the BAO. Subsequently, the BAO checks what is known about the application by comparing the visa application against information on the applicant or host provided by partners in the migration system. It also checks against profiles and local information.

Once the visa application has been checked by the officer, they will be advised on how to process the application: with a ‘fast track’, an ‘intensive track’ or a ‘regular’ procedure. A visa application that generates a fast track will require less attention than an intensive track. The information from the BAO will never result in the automatic acceptance (or refusal) of a short-stay visa application. It is the visa officers who are in charge of deciding whether extra steps are needed, such as interviewing the applicant or verifying a document.

Furthermore, the project also envisages the development of an information platform called the Country Wizard (CW). The CW ensures access to all background knowledge of a country, its society and the visa population, necessary to place the visa application in the right context. This information is laid down in a uniform way per country to guarantee easy access and the information is factual, up-to-date, validated and non-discriminatory.

The project officially ended at the beginning of 2020 but there is still an information-supported decision-making team working for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The team ensures an effective use of project results and at the time of writing, the team is being incorporated in the Central Service Organisation.

To assess all visa applications worldwide in a uniform and objective way, Member States can adapt the tools that the Netherlands has developed for their visa process. At the same time, other authorities in the migration chain could also benefit from the tools BAO and CW, for example border authorities.

In the context of the new EU visa instrument (the Border Management and Visa Instrument – BMVI) the Netherlands envisages joining up with other Member States to share its experiences on this methodology, as this way of working has no precedent in the consular area of other Member States.

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