Transforming the visa application system for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Expanding trade with a well-crafted customer journey

Overview

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Challenge

Increasingly globalised economies, the rise of budget airlines and digital nomadism, have increased travel and trade opportunities for those with a thirst for adventure or an eagerness to do business beyond borders.

The Netherlands in particular have seen an increase in tourist and business travellers, with short-stay visas issued by the Netherlands increasing sharply in the period 2011-2017 by more than 45 percent to 621,000 per year.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) wished to transform their paper-based Schengen Visa application process to a digital one, to streamline and improve the process by which foreigners apply for entry visas to the Schengen countries.

WORTH was tasked to transform a tedious bureaucratic system into a seamless online application that is easily navigated by individuals applying remotely. The MFA established the following objectives:
- Providing customers with excellent service for requesting consular products
- Setting up a more efficient application process, both tested at the customer and tailored to the internal process
- Producing a low-threshold and logical application process in which as much digital as possible is handled
- Reducing the workload of the MFA’s contact centre and other front offices

A highly secure and scalable visa application system that processes upwards of 700,000 applications each year was delivered by WORTH.

"As of 2020, people can apply for visa and travel documents from the comfort of their homes and where necessary go to a front office counter nearby. This is positive for the Netherlands worldwide. Clients are being served better, safety is reinforced and the economy is being pushed forward."

Jan Willem Beaujean, Director Consular Affairs, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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The approach

Teamwork at its best - WORTH put in place a cross-functional agile team structure, working closely with ministry staff (both on their site and at our offices on a regular, weekly basis), to involve them in the process fully and openly, and coaching them in agile processes and digital services.

Using the right technology - The number of visa applications handled by this application is projected to be more than 700,000 per year, with anticipated peak periods during which probably 1,000 users (primarily visa applicants) will be working concurrently. This has motivated an approach where the center of gravity of the program’s logic is shifted towards the client browser. As a result, the platform is designed and built as a Single-Page Application or SPA, with a dedicated API Server, where the number of network requests to the server is drastically reduced.

Results

Designing with users at the core - Delivering an intuitive and extremely efficient digital service that serves user needs

Improving efficiency for the MFA - Replacing all non-digital work processes and services, expediting the approval of over 700,000 visa applications per year

Meeting high security requirements - Guaranteeing the privacy of personal data, and enabling secure digital visa applications worldwide