The European Union investigating potential irregularities in the Schengen visa process, in particular regarding its award of such visas to nationals of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. Investigators are trying to uncover a network of intermediaries with intertwined relations within the embassies and consulates of European countries in the three Maghreb countries.
Media reports said that the European investigation will examine Schengen visas granted to Moroccan nationals over a period of one year to ensure the compliance with strict conditions, especially with regard to bank statements. The investigation also includes the length of stay granted to Moroccan nationals in the Schengen visa and its compatibility with the guarantees required in Schengen visa application files that include European States.
According to the same sources, the European investigation came after a scandal broke over the manipulation of the centres of granting Schengen visas, including the centre of “TLS Contact” in Algeria and the existence of information which reached the European Union regarding a major “manipulation” process of visa granting in the Maghreb countries specifically, involving consular officials, namely Moroccans and others with European nationalities.
The sources added that the scandal was behind the announcement of the French embassy in Algeria the decision to terminate its contract with the centre. It will also replace it with another centre at the beginning of next year because of the manipulations uncovered by citizens who sent files for the French visa application, but could not get an appointment due to overcrowding. It was discovered that the applications deposit dates were sold in secret and for considerable amounts.
Recently, the French ambassador to Algeria, Xavier Driencourt, insisted that the problem of granting French visas to Algerians will be resolved by the end of 2017. The diplomatic official confirmed that his embassy departments granted more than 400,000 Schengen visas to Algerians.
Middle East Monitor