eVisa – A viable solution for governments and travellers

The eVisa solution simplifies and streamlines the entire lifecycle of the visa process and reduces turnaround timelines, while guaranteeing minimum to no contact between individuals to secure an essential travel document.

Amid sealed borders and cancelled flights for intercontinental travel, tourism hit a pause when travel restrictions were implemented across the world at the peak of the pandemic. It will be fair to say that since then, the Covid-19 pandemic has begun transforming the world of travel in ways we never knew. 

Right from contact tracing apps to strict testing norms, sanitisation and safety, and guidelines for physical distancing, the sector is now witnessing powerful trends and changing behaviours that are here to stay for a while. Amidst all this is a curious traveller, who after months of confinement, is starting to dream of destinations and experiences again. The hope here rests on the certainty that there will be a gradual revival in travel, albeit a cautious one. With countries negotiating travel bubbles and revival strategies to ensure a safe transit experience, it is time to say that international travel, whenever and wherever it restarts, is likely to be smarter and safer for both consumers and enablers.

If there is one aspect that will play a pivotal role in shaping the new normal, and allowing safe and seamless experiences, it is tech-enabled innovations and services. With the fear of the contagion still looming and travel brands getting creative to ensure minimum to no contact, it can be said that future travel will see a lot of technological interventions with well-protected ecosystems ensuring physical and digital safety from the very first step. 

Take visas for instance - one of the most crucial documents for international travel for citizens of many countries. In the current scenario where consumers are seeking alternative contactless experiences even in traditional operations, the visa application process or the visa itself is developing several avatars, one such being the eVisa. 

An electronic platform to apply for visas, particularly becoming popular among low-risk origin countries and where no biometric enrolments are required at a visa application centre. The eVisa allows potential travellers to apply remotely with minimum to no human interface, offers a seamless and an enhanced experience, all without having to visit the embassy or application centres. It is an even better solution for travellers not residing in locations with physical centres or consulates/embassies nearby, and need to make an additional trip to get their visa application done in a faraway city. The solution can also be used to establish an ETA platform be used for origin countries that were earlier part of the visa exempt nations for specific countries. This enables the government to collect relevant information about the traveller prior to arrival. 

The eVisa solution simplifies and streamlines the entire lifecycle of the visa process and reduces turnaround timelines, while guaranteeing minimum to no contact between individuals to secure an essential travel document. 

From application to the payment of fees, decision-making, and tracking, the e-visa solution facilitates the entire process remotely, which is especially relevant in today’s time. The solution also serves as an advantage for consulates or embassies as this move to a digital interface could help free up the consular staff to focus on the crucial activities of decision-making, leading to enhanced time and cost-efficiency. A set of pre-verified online documents can also mean a potential integration with immigration watch lists to help identity fraud.

With the success of eVisa solutions that VFS Global has witnessed with countries like Thailand, UAE/Dubai, Vietnam, and Suriname, among other locations, the overall convenience, speed and remote operability of eVisas is also capable of providing a push in tourism to countries offering this facility, thereby contributing to the revival of their economies. 

Given the current scenario, eVisas are being viewed as a sustainable way of minimising touchpoints and opting for contactless journeys, except in cases where physical presence is required for biometric enrolment. While travel and tourism will see a gradual return, this will also be contingent on the new ways to address the traveller’s evolving needs; and introduction of eVisas could be a big step in this direction.

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