Australia’s Proposed Privatized Visa System Could See Nation Sold to Highest Bidders?

The Australian Government and its immigration organization have very big plans to reform and improve the way the visa applications are currently handled by them.

As per the information trickling in, the nation will rope-in private players to manage the visa applications submitted from across the world for Australia immigration. This will be done under what is being called would be the Australian Global Digital Platform Model.

Allegedly, “High-value applicants” will be in a position to access for “premium services” despite the fact that jobs, information privacy, and security of individuals’ information will be at stake.

But as per the present government, the need of the hour is to go for modernization & privatization, to further improve the way visa applications are presently handled. It further adds that refugee applications and complex petitions will still continue to be handled by the Australian immigration visa authorities even as the safety and security of the nation will not be jeopardized in any manner, as alleged by some detractors.

Australian immigration visa
Australian immigration visa

This is the gist of the news. Now let’s check the news in detail!

Reportedly, the Australian Administration has grand plans to privatize the Australian visa application system, and it may comprise “premium services for high-value applicants”, entirely different access for those with deep pockets, as well as “commercial value-added services”.

However, a concerned Australian organization warns that the proposed amendments – the department’s favored option is to have every visa petition decided through an online platform – may bring down curtains on 3,000 jobs and endanger the safety & security of the immigration aspirants’ private details.

As if to clear such alleged cobwebs of doubts and misconceptions, the home affairs minister, Peter Dutton, states that the proposal’s basis is to streamline the nation’s visa system, to manage an enormous and ballooning figure of petitions. A not-too-convinced Greens senator though reportedly proclaims that the plan may result in a deadly corruption of the integrity of the nation’s visa system even as the nation will be vended to the highest bidder.

As per an update on the subject, the Australian immigration is looking for a private-sector associate to design, develop and run a commercial “user-pays” visa application and approval system, with restricted human involvement. It is sincerely keen to have a partnership to design, implement and administer the nation’s visa business, and explore profit-making value-added services that will aid in drawing individuals to Down Under.

The government and the Australian immigration also, reportedly, claim that the privatization and modernization of the visa arrangement would be the most noteworthy reorganization to the nation’s immigration structure in over three decades.

Significantly, the visa services presently come under the domain of the newly set up Department of Home Affairs. The organization processes about nine million visa petitions per annum, and, allegedly, this number is likely to jump to 13 million inside 10 years.

At present, 25% of the visa petitions are on paper even while 50% of every decision is made manually.

Allegedly, processing visas, at present, costs the administration several hundred million dollars every year, and it wants to make its “visa business” moneymaking under the latest arrangement.

The government also claims that it is not just about digitizing what Immigration Australia does presently, but just as vitally about setting-up a groundbreaking profit-making model that generates fresh opportunities for the administration, visa clients and the service providers.

As per the details available, under the future “global digital platform” model, petitions for visas would be made online, and the administration will see that 90% – particularly the short-term & simple petitions – are reviewed and decided automatically, minus any major human participation.

The immigration department will keep the control of security evaluations, and also difficult petitions; for instance diplomatic or refugee visas.

Reportedly, the Australian Immigration Department’s first request for Expressions of Interest (EoI) to the market is to make the “global digital platform” for managing the visa petitions and sanctions. However, more government activities are likely to be privatized in the future, comprising health checks, character or authenticity (whether the papers/certificates are genuine) assessments, and also statistics gathering and corroboration.

Admitting overseas people to a nation is a fundamental sovereign function but many other nations have wholly outsourced their visa operations. This is another matter that the results have not, at all times, been well received.

For instance, the UK’s Home Office was heavily censured for making profits of a maximum of 800% on some visa petitions, and its suite of upfront levies. Most remarkably, any candidate, who got in touch with UK Visas and immigration from overseas via e-mail, was reportedly slapped with a levy of 5.48 British Pounds.

Further, during 2015, the operations of the VFS Global, which works for close-to 45 administrations, were, reportedly, temporarily put off post a technical malfunction that enabled the visa aspirants in Italy to access other individuals’ private details.

Coming back to Australia and the country’s Immigration Body’s digital plans, the official request of the administration for tender will reportedly be available to the interested parties in the market in July 2018. As per Dutton, the tender process would be obtainable to both the local and overseas firms/organizations.

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