Capgemini collaborates with the Austrian Federal Ministry of the Interior in a long term partnership to enhance efficiency in processing visa applications.
In 1996, Austria was preparing to implement the Schengen Agreement to abolish border controls with other Schengen states in continental Europe. Since the agreement introduced free movement within the Schengen area, a new requirement arose for close communication between participating states regarding visa applications. In the interests of public security and in order to control migration, applications received in one Schengen state might have to be rejected if the applicant was on a watchlist or blacklisted database in another.
Until this point, Austria’s Federal Ministry of the Interior (or BM.I) had used only simple IT systems to record visa requests, and to manage watchlists for Austria only. As there was rarely any need to consult authorities outside Austria when processing visa applications, there was no mechanism in place to enable communication with other countries. The new requirement to consult with other Schengen states was expected to generate a ten-fold increase in necessary visa processing activity. As a result, a system had to be implemented to process the visa applications with far greater efficiency.
The BM.I selected Capgemini as its partner for a project beginning in 1996 to deliver the new system, called VISION Austria, which would enable the country to join the Schengen Visa consultation network called VISION (or Visa Inquiry Open Border Network) in 1997. Ever since the success of the project, Capgemini’s partnership with the BM.I has grown in scope and maturity. Initially Capgemini had a maintenance contract for the new system and was responsible for application management. But in 2002 Capgemini took on full responsibility for the management of the solution, and enhanced VISION features in response to the latest Schengen regulations and processes, as well as migrating it to a new Microsoft platform (.NET, windows Server, MS SQL Server).
By the end of 2007 nine new member states had joined the Schengen area, resulting in a near 70% increase in workload, which VISION Austria handled without any problems. Today, a Capgemini team maintains the system, and delivers functional management for the IT department of the Ministry.
Within an ongoing partnership which dates back 15 years, Capgemini and the BM.I have put in place a modern solution to support the Schengen process. VISION handles the ongoing consultation that enables the Schengen states to exchange information on visa requests from foreign nationals, identify individuals who may present a risk to other member states, and deny those individuals access to the Schengen area if necessary. Most applications run through the system without manual intervention, because criminal record and counter-te