HANDBOOK FOR THE PROCESSING OF VISA APPLICATIONS AND THE MODIFICATION OF ISSUED VISAS
The objective of this Handbook, for the practical application of the Visa Code is to lay down operational instructions (guidelines, best practices and recommendations) for the performance of tasks of Member States' consular staff and staff of other authorities responsible for examining and taking decisions on visa applications, as well as tasks of staff of the authorities responsible for modifying issued visas.
The Handbook and its operational instructions take into account the Visa Code1 and all other European Union legislation relevant for the implementation by consular staff and staff of other authorities responsible for examining and taking decisions on visa applications of the European Union's common visa policy, which regulates the issuance of visas for transit through or intended stays in the territory of the Member States not exceeding three months in any six-month period. The list of the legal instruments relevant for this Handbook is set out in Part VI.
The Handbook is drawn up on the basis of Article 51 of the Visa Code. It neither creates any legally binding obligations upon Member States nor establishes any new rights and obligations for the persons who might be concerned by it, but aims to ensure a harmonised application of the legal provisions. Only the legal acts on which the Handbook is based, or refers to, produce legally binding effects and can be invoked before a national jurisdiction.
Fundamental rights enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union must be guaranteed to any person applying for a visa. The processing of visa applications should be conducted in a professional and respectful manner and fully comply with the prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatments and the prohibition of discrimination enshrined, respectively, in Articles 3 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights and in Articles 4 and 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
In particular, consular staff must, in the performance of their duties, fully respect human dignity and must not discriminate against persons on grounds of sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. Any measures taken in the performance of their duties must be proportionate to the objectives pursued by such measures.
Consular staff should seek to strike a balance between the need, on the one hand, always to be vigilant in order to detect persons posing a risk to public policy and internal security as well as potential illegal immigrants, and the need, on the other hand, to ensure the smooth handling of visa applications submitted by persons who fulfil the entry conditions. It is impossible in a Handbook to set up operational instructions providing clear guidance in each and every individual case that might occur. In such cases where no clear guidance is given, consular staff shall process visa applications in full compliance with the spirit of the common visas policy.