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EUROPEAN UNION

Office of the European Union Representative (West Bank and Gaza Strip, UNRWA)

Local Schengen Cooperation
East Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza Strip

LSC Meeting 11 April 2012 Summary Notes

Present
CH, NL, BE, DK, SE, EU, NO, FI, HU, DE

Introduction
The EU greeted all Member States to this thirteenth LSC Jerusalem meeting to be chaired by the European Union under the new Visa Code.

Report from the working groups
BE suggests that both the composition and the scope of the working groups be revised. Action to be taken: All MS are asked to contact NO Pål Johansen with suggestions on a possible reshuffle of the groups. The question will be discussed in the next LSC Jerusalem meeting on 13 June 2012. • SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS (CZ, LV and PL in Tel Aviv) Notes from meeting on 01 June 2011: Work is on-going. A working group on the harmonisation of supporting documents has been set up. A draft list has been submitted to the MS for approval. Once approved, it will be forwarded to the Visa Committee. The working group is, however, still missing replies from several MS. Action to be taken by all MS who haven’t replied yet: Please contact the working group to submit your position on the draft list.

FR and SE in Jerusalem) Notes from meeting on 01 June 2011: o The gap between the lowest and highest fee charged in local currency is 20% and is in high need of harmonisation. Action to be taken by all MS: Please report to the working group on the state of implementation on the visa fee waiver for the following categories: (a) children under six years.5. So far no agreement has been reached in this jurisdiction on any of the optional visa fee waivers. Notes from meeting on 14 December 2011: Nothing to report. Nothing to report. but we still agree that the fees charged should be harmonised. Notes from meeting on 09 November 2011: MS handed in signed lists of supporting documents. The feedback should be given to the working group. o The working group on visa fees is drafting proposals for harmonisation of the optional visa fee waivers in Visa Code Art 16. conferences. The working group has so far produced one proposal. But it has been impossible for LSC Jerusalem to harmonise the visa fees since many MS are not free to harmonise locally (bound by decisions taken by their respective central authorities). None of the MS present were opposed to the proposal from the working group. (c) researchers from third countries travelling for the purpose of carrying out scientific research. Action to be taken by the working group: draft a proposal and send it out for approval to all MS. No MS feels that the differences in fees are a source of visa shopping.4. (d) representatives of non-profit organisations aged 25 years or less participating in seminars. o Several MS in our jurisdiction have reported that they do not waive the visa fee for one or more of the visa fee waiver categories mentioned in Visa Code Art 16.Notes from meeting on 07 September 2011: The list of supporting documents has been ready for some time. They are however in the process of implementing the said article. Some MS voiced confusion regarding who should have the feedback. The working group will draft a proposal asking Brussels to intervene at their level to encourage the MS to harmonise the fees. The proposal will be sent by the EU to Brussels. students. and not to the EUDEL. regarding visa fee waiver for children under 12. Notes from meeting on 8 February 2012: Nothing to report. postgraduate students and accompanying teachers who undertake stays for the purpose of study or educational training. (b) school pupils. . cultural or educational events organised by non-profit organisations. sports. • FEES AND EXEMPTIONS (GR. Several MS have not yet responded to the working group. but the working group is lacking feedback from MS.

When it comes to the Palestinian travel documents. The Commission invited the other MS to follow suit. Action to be taken by all MS who haven’t replied yet: Please contact the working group to submit your position on the draft proposal. both for MS and applicants. This draft does however contain factual errors regarding Palestinian travel documents. . PL has become the 18th MS not charging Turkish applicants for visas. Notes from meeting on 8 February 2012: 17 MS have decided to systematically grant visa fee exemption to Turkish applicants. CZ and NL in Ramallah) Notes from meeting on 01 June 2011: o The working group has reported to LSC on all Palestinian travel documents. An overview has been circulated to all MS and a proposal for harmonisation of the treatment of the Palestinian VIP passports has been sent to MS for approval. We have received a draft table of travel documents from Brussels. Notes from meeting on 07 September 2011: No harmonisation of the visa fee in local currency has been achieved. A draft a recommendation where VIP passports are proposed to be treated as Diplomatic ones (fees and supporting document requirements) if the application is supported by a MFA Note Verbale has been sent to all MS.Action to be taken by all MS who haven’t replied yet: Please contact the working group to submit your position on the draft proposal. since many MS are not free to harmonise locally. some MS regard the so called VIP passports as being Diplomatic. due to lack of harmonisation in the table of travel documents. Action to be taken by all MS who haven’t replied yet: Please contact the working group to submit your position on the draft proposal. The working group will send a list of the errors to the EU. Several MS have noot yet replied. Notes from meeting on 14 December 2011: Nothing to report. but this must be dealt with by Brussels. o Currently. DK. to be forwarded to Brussels. while other MS don't. there is still one remaining obstacle to a fully harmonised list. • TRAVEL DOCUMENTS (CH. o A particular problem is created. o LSC Jerusalem is waiting for input from LSC Amman and LSC Tel Aviv regarding other travel documents (Jordanian and Israeli) used by applicants in our jurisdiction. Notes from meeting on 09 November 2011: From January 2012 FI will not accept visa fees in € only in ₪ (NIS). o It has been decided that all MS should be able to agree on treating the VIP passports as Diplomatic ones if the applicant is is a diplomat and the application is supported by a MFA Note Verbale. This has an implication on both the fee and the required supporting documents.

Notes from meeting on 07 September 2011: DK has written a report on erroneous or misleading information regarding Palestinian travel documents in the new COM table of travel documents: 1. In the travel document their nationality is given as Jordanian. Action to be taken: EE should consider withdrawing the footnote since it is redundant. Action to be taken: MS should only enter information on travel documents that do exist. Notes from meeting on 14 December 2011: Nothing to report. Action to be taken: COM should replace the French footnote by a General footnote (keeping the same text). The report has been forwarded to Brussels by EUDEL. only two do in fact exist. . namely No. Footnote 3. which has been introduced by EE. 2. 4 (VIP passport). Notes from meeting on 8 February 2012: Nothing to report. . applicants and the borders. which was introduced by FR. Footnote 2. 1 (Ordinary passport) and No. which makes problems for visa staff. • INFORMATION SHEET (AT. The mission has repeatedly asked their capital to rectify the table. “The document called ‘Passport travel document’ is recognised”. should be replaced by a general footnote for line 1: “Black cover (previously green cover valid until expiration)”. The working group on travel documents for Palestinian and Israeli travel documents have given their reports and COM will ask each MS centrally to correct their recognition of these travel documents. Notes from meeting on 09 November 2011: COM has taken charge of updating the Table of Travel Documents to contain only documents which actually exist.SK and CH have erroneously stated that they do not recognise travel documents that in reality do not exist – thus creating the false impression that such travel documents exist. Palestinians with Israeli travel documents will not be allowed to retain these travel documents if they become citizens of another country. FI and LT in Tel Aviv) Notes from meeting on 01 June 2011: The working group on the common information sheet has submitted a draft list to the MS. as the travel document is only given to stateless Palestinians. may confuse the reader. . since there is no alternative wording or travel document. 3. Of all Palestinian travel documents listed.MT has erroneously recognised travel documents that do not exist. The meeting noted that several errors are to be found in the tables related to Israeli and Jordanian travel documents as well. HU informs that they actually recognise the Israeli travel document for residents of East Jerusalem but that this has not been updated in the official table of recognised travel documents.

while other MS compile combined statistics. All MS will bring their statistics for the first half of 2011 for the next LSC meeting. FR and SE in Jerusalem) Notes from meeting on 01 June 2011: A working group on statistics has been set up. The statistics compiled by the MS in the jurisdiction of SC Jerusalem are not comparable due to the fact that some MS compile separate statistics for their missions in Tel Aviv and the Palestinian territories. and SE and GR will make efforts to revive the working group in FR absence. Nothing to report. Notes from meeting on 09 November 2011: Nothing to report Notes from meeting on 14 December 2011: Nothing to report. Notes from meeting on 07 September 2011: Nothing to report. training etc). Notes from meeting on 07 September 2011: No progress to be reported. Notes from meeting on 8 February 2012: MS handed in their statistics for 2011 to the working group. Several MS are however opposed to the very idea of exchanging statistics. but a short summary of previous work was given for the benefit of visiting Mr García Martínez from COM. family visits.Action to be taken by all MS who haven’t replied yet: Please contact the working group to submit your position on the draft proposal. • STATISTICS (GR. not including data from Israel): Please contact the working group to submit your data or report any problem on compiling statistics. not including data from Israel). Notes from meeting on 09 November 2011: Nothing to report Notes from meeting on 14 December 2011: Nothing to report. Notes from meeting on 8 February 2012: Nothing to report. It is therefore important that the working group on Statistics analyse the data from the different LSC Jerusalem MS and ask all MS to present data from the Palestinian territories only (i. business. . SE suggests that MS compare their respective types of visa applicants (tourism. Action to be taken by all MS who yet haven’t presented data from the Palestinian territories only (i.e.e. Mr García Martínez explained the benefits of exchanging statistics locally.

. DE will continue to gather information to counter fraud and illegal immigration and encourages all MS to provide similar information for a common handbook. which does not exist and the number was from a sticker belonging to the Embassy in Bucharest. to discover fraudulent applicants.Action to be taken: All MS are requested to prepare a short presentation of their typical visa applicant for the next meeting on 13 June 2012. DE has also collected genuine signatures from the Palestinian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Hebron and distributed these signatures during the meeting to all MS. DE always double-checks with the Palestinian Chamber of Commerce for their business visa applicants. A training on fraud was given by the DE Federal Police on 18 May 2011. based on inputs from all MS. in order to hide a previous rejection. IT has discovered a false visa sticker and sends out copy of this sticker to MS. as well as other measures. Notes from meeting on 07 September 2011: DE is working on a handbook for new visa staff. many applicants do not even pick up this passport from the visa office. It was decided that a handbook on fraud and migratory risks in our jurisdiction. There has been some exchange of information in the framework of the LSC meetings. • FRAUD AND MIGRATION (DE. but claim it as lost to Palestinian authorities and get a new blank one issued. will be compiled by DE. Different types of fraud and ways of discovering them were discussed. If a visa is rejected. Notes from meeting on 8 February 2012: Nothing to report. RO in Ramallah) Notes from meeting on 01 June 2011: A working group on fraud and migratory risks has been set up. Notes from meeting on 09 November 2011: DE has found out that applicants claiming to go to exhibitions and medical treatment are overrepresented among asylum seekers in Schengen and have therefore introduced extra questionnaires for these groups of applicants. SE will send out information from their experience in Damascus. including important local information for visa staff to be aware of when processing cases. MT. GR informed about fraud with Palestinian passports. The stamp was from the Embassy in Jerusalem. which will be helpful in giving visa staff an idea on what to look for. Mr García Martínez said that COM will send a report regarding Palestinian asylum seekers in Europe. Notes from meeting on 14 December 2011: Nothing to report.

Notes from meeting on 09 November 2011: Nothing to report Notes from meeting on 14 December 2011: SE has joined the working group. the two most preferred travel insurance companies by Palestinian visa applicants – according to reports from the MS – will be visited in January 2012. LSC Jerusalem has experienced cases where applicants have paid large sums of money to be added to a group without actually belonging to it. for instance for hospitalisation. for instance when travelling for sports events or training courses. ask the companies to provide Schengen compliant travel insurances. NO always asks the organiser to formally confirm that they will cover all expenses for possible deportation in case a visa applicant will not leave Schengen at the end of the visa period. . AlMasheq and National Insurance.Fraud is often difficult to discover when the visa applicants form part of a group. Notes from meeting on 8 February 2012: Nothing to report. Trust. DK in Ramallah) Notes from meeting on 01 June 2011: EU reported that a possible common Schengen visa office has been visited in Gaza City. Only t Trust and AlMasheq have European partners. The workin group will inform the insurance companies about the requirements for travel medical insurance as set out in the Visa Code. It is located in the Al Mashtal hotel. Negotiations on the monthly rent are ongoing. • BIOMETRICS (BE. supported by NO and EU): to send a letter to the insurance companies asking them to propose a travel insurance policy meeting the requirements of the Visa Code. National Insurance works only according a sort of reimbursement scheme – something which could be a problem if large sums of money are needed. IT and SE in Jerusalem. The working group will contact more insurance companies and after that. • TRAVEL INSURANCE (BE and SE in Jerusalem) Notes from meeting on 01 June 2011: Action to be taken by the WG (ES and BE. BE will report on the progress after the meetings. PNI and Trust. In order to discover possible fraud. The working group has met with three of the most frequently used insurance companies in the West Bank and Gaza. SE will provide the LSC with an account of ten years of fraud history. All three companies will give the fee back if the visa is not granted. Notes from meeting on 07 September 2011: BE will have meetings with several travel insurance companies in the West Bank to convince them to issue travel insurance that is in compliance with the Schengen regulations. It is hoped that the companies will be interested in providing Schengen compliant insurance policies.

An alternative to take the fingerprints in Gaza would be to ask the applicants to go to Tel Aviv. The BE led CAC project is planned to start implementing the biometrics 1 February 2012. It is not possible to write “Ramallah” (where the Representation offices are located) in the visa stickers. No MS is at present asking their applicants in Gaza to travel to Cairo to apply for visas. The planned inspection of the site had to be postponed for security reasons. Saudi Arabia. LV issues letters to applicants from the West Bank. The working group continues however with the Belgian initiative for a common Schengen application and biometrics centre in Gaza. DE and NO have decided to stay in their current offices in Gaza. Jordan. are not allowed to deal with visa matters. However. the MS in LSC Jerusalem are concerned that other negative implications will result from postponing the roll out to the Palestinian Territories: • 4 MS (CH. but there have been problems agreeing on the rent. SE and DK. United Arab Emirates and Yemen). It is planned that the office will be functional from January 2012. this is not a feasible solution for Gaza applicants. Notes from meeting on 09 November 2011: The EUDEL and the working group on biometrics are discussing security with the hotel in Gaza where the application centre will be. as Representation offices according to the interim agreements. Jerusalem or Cairo. MT) issue visas in Ramallah. Iraq. but write “Telaviv” in the visa stickers. although the overall security situation in the Gaza Strip remains volatile. Notes from meeting on 14 December 2011: A Security Advisor dispatched from DK visited the planned Schengen premises in Gaza in November. Iran. DE. and that it is probable that applicants in the West Bank and Gaza will be exempted from the fingerprint requirement for the time being. Bahrain. DK. Notes from meeting on 8 February 2012: At a meeting on 27 January 2012. A location has been found in El-Mashtal hotel. Kuwait. Lebanon and Syria) and on Tuesday 2 October 2012 in the third region (Afghanistan. However.Notes from meeting on 07 September 2011: Some MS have heard rumours that the introduction of fingerprints in visas in our region will be postponed until May 2012. The Commission wants to ensure a global roll out of the system as quickly as possible to harvest the full potential of the system and avoid visa shopping. it was agreed on a time schedule for roll-out of VIS in the second and third regions: The VIS will be launched on Thursday 10 May 2012 in the second region (Israel. Qatar. stating that they have a visa appointment in Tel Aviv and all applicants have so far been granted travel permits to Tel Aviv by Israel with such a letter. The assessment is positive. . Technical and practical advice on the needed security installations was given. due to the difficulties in obtaining entry permits to Israel for Gaza residents. thereby giving the false impression that the stickers have been issued in an area where fingerprints have been introduced (Tel Aviv in Israel). co-funded by FRONTEX with BE. but most other MS are considering joining the Common Application Centre. Oman.

• Should Palestinians who are not giving fingerprints be registered in VIS? In our opinion. but it is not portable and cannot be brought to the reception offices in East Jerusalem. • IT has fingerprint equipment at the office in West Jerusalem. • LV demands that applicants living in the West Bank should come to Tel Aviv to apply and thereby give fingerprints. The solution would consist in equipping all MS with portable fingerprint units to reach the applicants who are residents of the West Bank and Gaza and not permitted by Israeli authorities to go to Jerusalem or Tel Aviv where the visa offices are located. • GR has fingerprint equipment at the office in West Jerusalem. they should contain fingerprints. borders have introduced new lines marked VISA FREE for travellers who do not need a visa.• Other MS receive the visa applications in Ramallah. • Several MS consider East Jerusalem (of which parts are located on the Israeli side of the separation wall) to be part of the Palestinian territories and therefore will not collect fingerprints from applicants in East Jerusalem. It is not of any assistance to us that our area should be divided into different regions and it is our clear message that all MS in LSC Jerusalem feel that the best solution would be for roll out to the Palestinian territories at the same time as the rest of region 2. A vast majority of the LSC Jerusalem MS favour a roll-out for West Bank and Gaza in May so as to avoid the above mentioned problems. the whole point about VIS – illegal immigration and security – is highly relevant for Palestinian applicants and they should therefore be included as early as possible. but the visas are processed and issued in Tel Aviv. • Some MS do not recognize West Jerusalem as part of Israel and cannot include fingerprints in visa stickers issued in West Jerusalem. but not in East Jerusalem and applications from the West Bank and Gaza are received by mail to the office in West Jerusalem. • Some MS are considering closing their visa offices in Ramallah and receive the applications directly in Tel Aviv in order to get fingerprints in the visa stickers. rather than countries) that will be part of the roll-out in May. The applicants live inside the area where fingerprints should be introduced. but don’t since they were collected in Ramallah. thereby allowing them to pass through passport control quicker. Since the applications are processed by Tel Aviv. • DE demands that applicants living in Jerusalem with Israeli ID should apply from the office in Ramallah and not in Tel Aviv. The solution decided by the Commission creates wide opportunities for visa shopping and confusion. we do not have a full overview of the preparedness to roll-out VIS. but apply outside. . Two of the LSC Jerusalem MS (IT and GR) have not yet received the necessary mobile equipment. but the text on the visa sticker is Jerusalem and this might give the impression that the visa should contain finger prints. even though the Representation offices in Ramallah have the equipment to take fingerprints. Ramallah and Bethlehem. The EU will raise this issue at HOMs level. Much would probably be gained if the Commission could issue precise instructions on the localities (cities. and have fingerprint equipment there. where Palestinians apply for visas. Due to the extra time needed to check visa applicants in VIS. Since all MS do not attend the LSC meetings.

would be to postpone the roll-out for Israel until the West Bank and Gaza can be included. The meeting agreed that a simultaneous roll-out should be possible as from 1 January 2013. ordinary applicants are taken care of by SE since 1 February 2012. No information has been received regarding informing the local authorities. CH has received the biometrics equipment and will start using it for their West Bank applicants on 10 May in Ramallah. Action to be taken: FR should either stop requiring airport transit visas for Palestinians. Several MS are not yet ready for a VIS roll-out in the West Bank and Gaza.NL receive visa applicants in Ramallah and then send the files by courier to Tel Aviv for registration and processing. The Gaza Common Application Centre (CAC) is expected to be operational as from 1 June 2012. the facilities will be used only by BE. . This is a politically sensitive subject and it is feared that the roll-out will contradict EU policy regarding the status of Jerusalem. Applicants going on official trips to Geneva (UN) will be asked to apply from Cairo. The meeting noted that the common information campaign (to be launched by the EU) has not started yet. The meeting concluded that the best way to avoid any negative political outfall and confusion both locally – among MS and visa applicants – and at the Schengen border controls. awaiting the other MS to be ready. The roll-out of region 2 will in practice include East Jerusalem. the Gaza CAC can be used by other Schengen Member States. or request that the Palestinians be included in the list in annex IV to the Visa Code. NL has the biometric equipment in Ramallah and are ready to start using it. News • NO informed that no transit visa is needed for travellers with resident permits in the following countries: IE – UK – BG – RO – CY – AND Andorra – RSM San Marino – US – CA. although only one month remains before the VIS roll-out on 10 May in region 2. Initially. Eventually. Some security works remain to be carried out. For Gaza.JP • FR requires airport transit visas for Palestinians although the latter should not need them (the nationals for whom a transit visa is required are listed in annexe IV to the Visa Code). aiming at informing the public about the fingerprint requirement. The meeting urged the EUREP in Jerusalem to convey the MSs’ concerns to the Commission in Brussels. FI has produced its own campaign material. DK and SE (who are co-financing the CAC project). They have not received any instructions on whether to take fingerprints as from 10 May. They have however not yet launched the campaign. unless portable biometrics equipment will be delivered.

RO in Ramallah) • Travel insurance (BE and SE in Jerusalem) • Biometrics working group (BE.Next LSC Meeting The next LSC Jerusalem meeting will be held on Wednesday 13 June 2012. from 13:00 to 14:30 in the EUREP Office. CZ and NL in Ramallah) • Information sheet (AT and FI in Tel Aviv) • Statistics (GR. DK in Ramallah) 6) Any other business 7) Next meeting . MT. NB: the LSC meeting will be followed by a Consular Cooperation meeting at 14:30. FR and SE in Jerusalem) • Fraud and Migration (DE. Preliminary meeting agenda: 1) VIS Roll-out 2) Reorganisation of the working groups 3) Presentation of each MS typical visa applicant 4) SE presents 10 years of visa fraud history 5) Report from the working groups (in writing. FR and SE in Jerusalem) • Travel Documents (CH. IT and SE in Jerusalem. DK. please) • Supporting documents (CZ and PL in Tel Aviv) • Fees and Exemptions (GR.