The European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) is an automated system that screens travelers from non-US citizens who wish to visit the Schengen Zone. The system checks the details of all applicants against official databases and refuses access to those deemed to be a serious security risk.
The integrity of the system relies on its ability to gather and store details, making sure that if an individual is convicted of a serious crime or suspected of terrorist activity, they are recorded in the system. It also needs to be able to effectively screen these details and do so with minimal manual input.
What are ETIAS Screening Rules?
The ETIAS program was first discussed in 2016 and slated for launch several years later. It was eventually delayed until late 2022 and is not expected to become mandatory until 2023.
That’s a lot of time for them to prepare, but exact screening rules have yet to be established. However, we know that these rules will be set by a Screening Board consisting of representatives from the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol), and all of the ETIAS National Units, which work in combination with the Central Unit.
These agencies will determine the requirements and define who is able to gain access to the Schengen Zone. They will also evaluate these rules as and when needed, such as in response to an increased terrorist threat or a pandemic.
The ETIAS process is not as complicated as the visa application process. It’s also predominantly automated, and so these changes need to be integrated seamlessly to ensure there are no hiccups.
What are the Risk Factors for ETIAS Screening?
In addition to potential security risks gleaned from criminal records and watchlists, the ETIAS Screening Process will consider points such as:
- Travelers who have been rejected for a large number of visas
- Travelers who have a history of overstaying and may be an immigration risk
- Travelers deemed high-risk by other agencies
ETIAS authorities are also expected to consider data from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding disease risk.
Such considerations have always been on the agenda as the authorities are keen to limit the spread of HIV/AIDs, rabies, and hepatitis. In a post-pandemic age, coronaviruses and flu strains will also be on the agenda.
Will I Be Refused Access?
The ETIAS is a fast, automated process. It typically takes around 10 minutes to complete an application and you will then receive an email informing you whether you have been accepted or refused.
It is estimated that over 95% of all applications will be accepted. But that leaves 5% of applications that will be refused because of a mistake, omission, or screening problem.
Generally speaking, as long as you enter your details correctly and don’t have any serious convictions, you should be accepted without issue. If not, it’s not the end of the world. Just read the refusal email to see what the issue is and try to put it right. In the vast majority of cases, you’ll just need to make a correction and submit another application.