Schengen Countries Deny Using Algorithms For Processing Visa Applications

Recent investigations have unveiled the Netherlands' alleged use of a secret algorithm to profile Schengen visa applicants based on ethnicity. This has sparked concerns among foreigners planning to visit the Schengen Area.

As the summer season commences, foreigners making plans to visit the Schengen Area are growing increasingly hesitant due to reports suggesting potential ethnic profiling in visa application processes.

Recent investigations have revealed that the Netherlands has been accused of employing a secret and potentially illegal algorithm to profile Schengen visa applicants based on their ethnicity. These revelations have raised concerns among third-country nationals, who fear that other Schengen countries may be using similar algorithms.


To shed light on the matter, reached out to several Schengen visa-issuing countries, and here are the responses received.

Dutch Ministry’s Secret Profiling System

A joint investigation by Lighthouse Reports and the NRC has revealed that the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been using an undisclosed profiling system since 2015 to assess the risk score of short-stay visa applicants.


The system employs variables such as nationality, age, and gender to profile millions of applicants. Those identified as “high risk” are subjected to delays and extensive investigations, often leading to visa rejections.

The existence of such a system has raised concerns among potential travellers, prompting questions about the use of algorithms by other Schengen countries.

Also Read: 17 Non-Schengen Countries You Can Visit With a Schengen Visa

Sweden and Spain Deny Algorithmic Profiling

The Swedish Migration Agency confirmed that they do not employ any algorithms to profile Schengen visa applicants based on ethnicity, age, gender, or economic background.

The agency emphasized that all applications are processed in accordance with the Schengen visa application code, with a decision expected within 15 calendar days, extendable to 45 days in certain cases.


Similarly, the Diplomatic Information Office of Spain stated that Spain does not use any algorithm or filter for visa applications and treats all applicants equally.

Silence from France and Switzerland Raises Concerns

While France and Switzerland, two countries with a high number of Schengen visa applications, were contacted for statements, they did not provide official responses. The lack of clarity from these countries has caused further unease among third-country nationals requiring a visa to enter the Schengen Area.

VFS Global’s Assurance

VFS Global, a visa outsourcing and technology services specialist, addressed the issue by stating that they do not discriminate against Schengen visa applicants. Although they manage administrative tasks related to visa applications for the Dutch government, they have never been involved in applicant filtering.

VFS Global clarified that visa appointment slots are not reserved for specific individuals based on ethnicity, and the availability of appointments depends on the requirements set by client governments.


Applicants’ Experiences Highlight Concerns

Following the revelations about the Netherlands’ profiling algorithms, several applicants have come forward to share their experiences, indicating potential discrimination.

Instances were reported where friends who had submitted identical documents were issued different visa decisions by Dutch authorities. Such incidents have reinforced the belief that secret and illegal algorithms are being employed to filter Schengen visa applicants.

Visa Approval Rates and Rejections

To address concerns regarding visa rejections, we have compiled a list of the easiest countries to obtain a Schengen visa based on the rejection rates in 2022.

Italy, Greece, Switzerland, Poland, Luxembourg, Finland, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Iceland were ranked as the most accessible countries. On the other hand, Malta, Sweden, Belgium, and France had the highest rejection rates in 2022.


(Source: Schengen Visa Info, edited by TraveloBiz staff)

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