The Department of Immigration and Border Protection expects that its new externally operated visa processing platform will assess 90 percent of all future visa applications to Australia.
The department began calling for feedback on the design and build of the visa platform in June, as part of a once-in-a-generation overhaul of Australia's visa system.
It proposed splitting the various components of its visa business into eight separate bundles to improve the client experience and service levels.
The proposal came amid unprecedented growth in the volume of visa applications, which are expected to grow from 8.7 million in 2016-17 to 13 million by 2026-27.
At the time it said it was exploring the wider role that industry could play in the delivery of visa services, but that it wanted to retain sovereignty functions, including policy, manual visa decision making and security checks.
The current visa application process is complex, and managed through two processing platforms – the immigration records information system (IRIS) and immigration and citizenship unified environment (ICUE) – that have been developed by the department over the past 30 years.
Much of the current system is also reliant on manual processes, which the department said has created a “critical nexus between the number of visa applications received and the number of states required to process them”.
While 20 percent of the visa business is currently provided by external partners, the majority of the visa processing and decision making process is overseen by 6000 departmental staff located both within Australia and oversees.
DIBP has now opened expressions of interest for a partner to provide an online self-service platform – the global digital platform – component of the new visa business.
It expects that any platform will have "both a strong business component and a world-class digital platform", and support the department ability to attract visitors and potential migrants.
The department envisions a future where visa applicants can apply at the point of booking travel, or where applicants can purchase travel and accommodation at the same time as their visa.
"This will require a future business model that can potentially join together a range of commercial value-added services and broader government services with the visa application and decision making process," tender documents state.
In addition to linking clients with other commercial services, the visa application process could also put applicants in touch with other "relevant services such as job search support, licensing and other government services, financial services, and education or property searches".
The online platform will be expected to interact with both the department’s systems and other market providers, including health assessment services, to manage all aspects of the visa business workflow.
It will allow all required information, including biometric data, to be "uploaded globally 24/7" from a range of different devices, and automatically assess visa applications against pre-defined business rules.
"The Department’s ambition is that in the future an average of 90 percent of all visa applications would be fully automated," it said.
A co-design process that the department will pay up to $1 million for will be conducted between February and June 2018.