Australian Immigration to Embrace New Technologies

Source: International Business Times

Immigration to outsource visa system as Australia prepares for tourists and migration surge

A huge part of Australia’s visa system will be run by private operators. The Immigration Department plan allows them to charge migrants in order to avoid cost blow-outs.

The changes to the immigration system allow companies to run tests and spot fraud. They can also suggest decisions to grant or refuse visas as the country prepares for a surge of tourists and migrants.

Huge swathes of its visa system will steadily move to private companies in contracts valued together up to $9 billion over a decade. Robotics and artificial intelligence were invited to help the immigration department design a new visa system in a bid to automate more assessments, according to The Canberra Times. The department has briefed industry players in Singapore, Bangalore and San Francisco.

Visa and citizenship applications are expected to see a 50 percent surge by 2026. Numbers are predicted up to the top 13 million annually.

Businesses currently cover 20 percent of the work in the department’s visa system. But Immigration told private operators that it intended to avoid cost blow-outs by involving them further.

It defended the move, saying it would allow the department’s staff to focus on the more complex elements of the visa business. “Doing so is expected to drive substantial financial and non-financial benefits for the Australian public, applicants, the government and the market,” the department said.


Immigration’s role

Despite the decision to outsource much of its visa application work, the department is still left with several functions. The Immigration will still control intelligence work, decisions on vague cases that require human judgement, decision reviews, enforcement and security assessments.

Furthermore, it retains functions where direct control is needed to guarantee government sovereignty over decision-making and ensure the security of the Aussie community. The department will pick companies to design and run a digital service for online application that will automatically determine if visa grants and applications are valid.

The process will send letter to applicants to advice them of the department’s decisions and reasoning. Letters requesting for additional information or invitations to comment on unfavourable findings will also be generated.

The department is planning to outsource much of its visa work following a national audit report of its IT security program that found it was vulnerable to cyber attacks. Since it missed the 2016 deadline to make the changes, it is yet to set a timeframe to adopt all four cyber security measures needed to protect it from threats.

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