In 2020, the European Commission agreed to launch the Electronic Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) as a visa waiver program. This program is meant to provide a travel authorization document for Europe. The document will work as a security tool to make border controls faster for all travelers and strengthen the European Union borders. The ETIAS security question and background check are mandatory to attain maximum security. This is because they help recognize the individuals that could cause a security threat to the Schengen Region and its residents.
Do I Need an ETIAS to Enter the Schengen Region?
Before, citizens from at least 60 countries could travel to the Schengen Region without having travel permission or a visa. But, this will change with the introduction of the ETIAS system. The system will require citizens from visa-free countries to be pre-screened before entering Europe. The good news is that you can complete the ETIAS form online within a few minutes. Also, the approval period is usually short. Nevertheless, applying at least three days before your travel day is advisable to avoid inconvenience. Remember, you will be required to provide personal information such as address and passport ID to complete the ETIAS online form.
ETIAS Background and Security Questions
As you approach the final steps of your online ETIAS form, you must answer some security and background questions. All of these will focus on your criminal record.
Typically, you must inform the authorities if you have convictions for serious crimes over the past ten years. Serious criminal transgressions include murder, sexual assaults, human trafficking, terrorism, drug trafficking, and sexual exploitation. Consequently, an applicant will be needed to provide information on whether they have stayed in any particular conflict or war zone. Will ETIAS only ask about previous 10 years convictions? Primarily, you must give information on any previous administrative arrangement that needed you to leave a country in the last ten years. However, for terrorism, the period in question increases to the previous 20 years.
Ensure you provide the information with utmost honesty, or your application could be disapproved. Remember that the Electronic Travel Information and Authority System will screen all the data provided through several security databases like Interpol and Europol.
What are the Requirements for Entering the EU with a Criminal Record?
A criminal record does not necessarily mean your ETIAS application will be rejected. The rejection heavily depends on the details of your criminal records and when they happened. For instance, your ETIAS application will be less likely to be affected by traffic offenses of a minor nature. But serious crimes in the past ten years will require the authorities to review them, and your application will likely be declined. Serious criminal offenses include rape, murder, drug, human trafficking, etc.
If your ETIAS is disapproved, but you still require to travel to the Schengen Area, you can opt for the Schengen Visa. In this case, the applicant must visit the Embassy in their specific country for an interview. They will also be required to provide more details pertaining to the criminal conviction. The official at the Embassy will then determine if you should be given a Schengen Visa or not depending on the level of threat, you pause to the Schengen Area.