In recent years, many governments have outsourced their visa processing to external partners. This has helped them to manage the increasing demand for visas in the age of booming international travel. Visa outsourcing can also benefit travellers, reducing processing times and improving customer service. In this article, we explore the benefits of outsourcing for both governments and travellers.
Border protection agencies have a singular focus on protecting borders. That’s their purpose – ensuring that citizens with a right to cross a border are allowed to do so easily, and stopping those who do not have the correct credentials or permission. To do this, they need to manage the documents that allow citizens to cross borders: passports and visas.
Traditionally these important identification documents were processed and issued close to the heart of a diplomatic mission – typically in a consular environment. However, over the past decade, many governments have outsourced these processes to trusted partners to help them to improve the service they provide to citizens and increase security.
Ensuring that the correct visa is issued to the correct citizen is an essential government service that protects the border, but the process of managing application centres, conducting in-person interviews and checking documentation can easily be performed by a professional partner – and this still allows for all final decisions on visas to be maintained inside the government department.
Consider some of the positive effects that outsourcing has had on the visa issuing process:
1. Improved security at consular properties
Inviting people to the consulate building for interviews and presentation of documents carries a security risk – especially if your consulate can expect hundreds of people to wait each day immediately outside the building. A partner that opens a Visa Application Centre, managing interviews and document checking, can take all these lines of people away from the consulate.
2. Geographic access
In large countries such as Russian Federation or China, it is difficult and expensive to offer multiple consulates just so that local citizens do not need to travel to the capital city for a visa appointment. A partner can offer many more Visa Application Centres, spread nationally and with the ability to process small or large volumes of visas.
3. Data security
Travel documents contain sensitive personal data so there is a need to use the best possible data security standards. Working with a partner using strong data encryption and other tools to prevent the loss of data can dramatically improve the security of citizen data.
4. Flexibility to handle volume
A consulate generally has a fixed volume it can handle because of physical space restrictions. The only way processing volume can increase is by moving to a new consulate – at great expense. Working with a partner ensures that volumes can fluctuate and all changes are handled with ease.
5. Improved customer service
Citizens have an expectation of good service – they see it all around in the private sector. Offering services across several channels, being more responsive and allowing real-time tracking of visa status can add up to a dramatic improvement in how the citizen experiences the visa process if a professional service partner is engaged. Better service also means greater government efficiency, because a satisfied citizen has no need to chase for information or register complaints.
6. Digital transformation
As new technologies and business processes evolve, a global service partner can help a government to exploit the opportunities presented by digital transformation, introducing new, innovative solutions that can prove more flexible and efficient than the complex legacy systems that are often in place.
Outsourcing offers an opportunity to completely transform how visas are processed. It is possible to create a service that is more convenient and easier for the citizen, while at the same time improving data security, flexibility and border safety.