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I am a citizen of a south asian country who recently travelled to Spain on a Schengen visa for a job interview. My flight was via Dubai (DXB), and the gate officer unsuccessfully attempted to peel off the Schengen visa stamp before letting me onto the plane. On arrival to Spain, I was able to breeze through passport control, perhaps within 15 seconds of being called to the counter.

However, when I was exiting Spain, the passport control officer (at the same airport where I entered) again attempted to peel the sticker off, then put my passport under a UV light, questioned me and let me back onto a plane to DXB.

I have two main questions:

  • Is attempting to peel the visa off expected behaviour? Is there any chance that a legitimate visa sticker could get peeled off or be damaged in this process?

  • Why did I face 'enhanced' passport control at exit? If I had a forged visa, isn't the point moot if I'm travelling back to my home country? I did have a multiple entry visa, but even if that triggered the extra check at exit, wouldn't it make more sense to do this on entry?

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Follow-up questions.
I'd have used my normal account, but I preferred to ask this anonymously.

@o.m. replied:

Most likely they wondered if your visa was a fake, but concluded that their initial impression was wrong.

  • Does the gate officer (for Emirates, in this case) have authority to possibly tamper with my passport?

  • Since o.m. didn't answer this, what about any damage that might be caused to the passport or the visa sticker?

  • This is a side question, and won't affect me marking any answer below as accepted, but how does the consulate stick the visa so that it won't come out as easily?

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    Please sign in to the account you made to ask this question, which is also needed to accept the answer when you are ready to do so. Having a separate account is not against the rules and you should be able to get the two anonymous accounts connected. – Willeke Dec 1 at 12:46
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    Putting the visa under UV light is a normal procedure. Are you sure they were attempting to “peel” the visa off? They were probably checking the tactile features of the visa. Also, whether you like it or not, racial profiling and profiling based on nationality is also normal. – greatone Dec 1 at 13:19
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    Sounds like the officer did not "try to" peel it off, but did succeed at examining why it appeared partially peeled off, to see whether it had been fraudulently peeled out of one passport and stuck in another. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Dec 2 at 3:31
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By common convention, one government should not damage a travel document of another (to which passport and visa belong).

Peeling off a visa sticker would be considered damaging, since it would invalidate the visa.

The stickers are designed to be checked without peeling them off.

The Spanish official probably noticed the attempt and checked if it had been completely peeled off, saw that it hadn't, and then did a normal check.

As to the reason why the original official attempted to peel it off in the first place, that is a question that you would have to ask that official (which you were wise not to).

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    The sticker peeling was done by an airline gate agent, not an immigration official. – lambshaanxy Dec 1 at 15:18
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    @jpatokal Even worse. Other than to look at it, they (not being a government official) are not allowed to manipulate it in any way shape or form. – Mark Johnson Dec 1 at 15:41
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    Why was it wise not to ask? What would the recourse be if the guy had managed to damage or create some kind of partial dis-figuration on the sticker? – user13267 Dec 2 at 6:39
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    @user13267 In some places it is wiser to take an official path to report such a damage. In this case government property was damage. Report it to the Embassy. They will envolve a higher authority that can deal with the offending offical more effectively. It all depends on the situation. – Mark Johnson Dec 2 at 7:02
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    @user13267: Because the resulting discussion could have taken longer than the remaining time to board the plane. – Jörg W Mittag Dec 2 at 7:15
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Most likely they wondered if your visa was a fake, but concluded that their initial impression was wrong.

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    that was my impression too, though it doesn't excuse the gate agent's actions (if he indeed did try to remove the sticker rather than just run a finger over it to check the 3D printing for authenticity). – jwenting Dec 3 at 5:21

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