Starting from April 3 the German Embassy in Armenia will no longer accept applications for the provision of Schengen visas, delegating this procedure to the Russian-Turkish consortium VisaMetric, the German Ambassador to Armenia, Matthias Kiesler told journalists on Wednesday.

He said applications for Schengen visas for traveling to Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Austria and Sweden will be considered by VisaMetric, which won a three-year tender for providing this service in the South Caucasus and Central Asian countries. At the same time, Kiesler noted that the changes will not affect national visas to Germany, which will be accepted and processed by the embassy.

He said VisaMetric will only handle the registration and acceptance of applications, while consideration of applications and the decision to grant or deny a visa will be made by the embassy staff. This is expected to help double the number of applications considered, according to the ambassador. The ambassador noted that in 2017 the embassy received 15,200 applications for Schengen visas, of which 14,000 were approved. Twenty-four percent of the applicants or every fourth received a visa for more than one year.

According to him, on average, due to a large number of applications, the processing of an application took 6 weeks. Now it will be reduced to 48 hours. According to the ambassador, the fact that VisaMetric is a Russian-Turkish consortium will not affect its work in Armenia, as all personal data of applicants will be securely protected.

A VisaMetric representative and program coordinator in Armenia Elvira Bazirova noted that due to the technical capabilities of the office, applications will be processed in a very short time, after which they will be sent for consideration by the embassy.

She said applicants will be able to track the movement of their passports from the center to the embassy and back in electronic format.

She noted that the center’s services will cost the visitor 20 euros for each application (not counting the consular fee.) For additional payment an applicant may enjoy VIP-services, order a photocopy copy or translation of documents, get a biometric photograph, receive SMS-notices or order a call about the readiness of a visa.

VisaMetric Group was founded by iDATA Consulting Inc. (iDATA) and Visa Management Service (VMS). It operates about 110 visa centers in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Russia, Turkey, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan. The company represents the diplomatic missions of Italy, Germany, Estonia, Korea, Malta. Portugal and Slovenia.