By Sam Gazeley | 4Q 2018 | IN-5345

This foresight investigates the growth in the e-Visa market and the countries that are introducing this capability. There will also be the opportunity to see if this can be associated with the development of e-passport programs around the world.

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A Summary of the Rise of e-Visa


With travel data and visas needing to be printed onto the credential itself and the requirement for travel records to be manually checked, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has tasked a splinter-group within the New Technologies Working Group, originally established in the 1990s, to look into the policy and technical framework for the next generation of machine-readable passports.

An e-Visa is an official document obtained through an online application that uses submitted personal information to assess and issue permission to travel. By using a unique identification number and a digital signature, an applicant can use an online platform to obtain an e-Visa, reducing the risk of fraud. By using this functionality alongside an e-passport, the transaction at the terminal can be considered more secure, as it can prevent duplication and data-alteration.

The growth in e-Visa applications has resulted in a reduction of identity-related problems and increased efficiency at airports by reducing verification times and, in the future, could be used alongside eGates to further reduce the requirement of physical staffing. Fueled by the massive increase in cross-border travel and the simultaneous technological developments in e-Visa applications and services, it is likely we will see an uptick in the use of these services in the coming years.

Does e-Visa Reflect a World of Increased Travel?


To ease entry of foreign citizens, Uzbekistan rolled out e-Visa on July 15, 2018. The facility is currently offered to citizens of 51 countries, including India, with the issued electronic visa valid for 90 days from the date of its issuance, and it can be issued using information ranging from an e-mail address to a phone number and even social networking accounts.

In December 2018, Papua New Guinea (PNG) launched a new e-Visa, which is available to 70 nationalities, including the United States, Canada, all European Union (EU) countries, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Argentina, Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Looking at future examples, starting on January 1, 2019, travelers will not be able to obtain visas on arrival at airports in Ukraine, and instead will need to acquire a Ukraine e-Visa. Originally established in April, rather than using both forms of visa, Ukraine is fully eschewing visas on arrival for its digital counterpart. With the e-Visa project pipeline looking healthy for the near future, it is likely more nations will adopt the digitized technology.

It can always prove challenging to introduce e-Visa and e-Passport programs as they require extensive work and financing, and they involve a combination of multifaceted Information Technology (IT) and physical infrastructure installation. For some nations, existing infrastructure for travel credentials can be leveraged to use the new technologies; however, this may not be possible as a solution for less developed nations. Furthermore, in terms of inhibitors to program adoptions, the process of capturing biometric information for the credential can prove complex if conducted at a centralized geographic location and the cost of quality-assurance in meeting International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) specifications, alongside concurrent issues in facial-recognition software, may provide further stumbling blocks.

The United Kingdom, Germany, and France have established themselves as the earliest implementers of border control and airport security-related biometric technology, so it is expected that application numbers for e-Visas will experience significant growth between 2018 and 2023, with European nations at the forefront. However, the Asia-Pacific nations are also estimated to swell in e-Visa applications as well, with India and Bangladesh beginning to solve issues with document processing through the introduction of biometrics-based smart travel credentials.

The Future of the e-Passport and e-Visa


There can be no doubt that e-Visa is an upcoming development and more countries will flock to enable these kinds of services. However, it is critical to be mindful of two areas when setting up online visa applications:

  • Differing Types of Authentication: The e-Visa system by design should be created to support all formats of authorization, such as student visas, worker permits, and residency permits.
  • The Ability of the System to Mesh with Third Parties: The system should be able to integrate with applications that have been conducted by a third party and not the applicant themselves. In this case, it may be necessary to verify the identity and authorization of the company or agent that is logging the application.

Border control and travel security are of paramount importance in modern times and this has been shown by stringent international travel policy amendments and general tightening of security. By making the process of authentication at airports using e-gates and automated infrastructure more efficient, it is more important than ever to ensure the appropriate security measures are in place. Several measures are in place that ensure government security requirements for e-Visa solutions are met:


  • Document Verification: With a standard visa, a citizen’s biometrics will be cross-referenced against the document and/or registered information at the border control point. With an e-Visa system, the credential can be ratified before the traveler has begun their journey as part of the application process, even using webcam software to verify against biometrics.
  • Increased Control and Monitoring: e-Visa provides security organizations and governments with a concurrent pattern of trends regarding supply and demand for visas and the volume of travelers. There is also the opportunity to monitor visa applications on-demand for peoples of interest.
  • Payment Card-Based ID Verification: By using e-Visa, there is the opportunity to safeguard against applications taking advantage of a stolen identity as part of the application process. Travelers must fulfil the requirement of the payment card details being in their own name. The online visa portal that the application is submitted to can be used to validate these details and reject the application if there is conflicting information.
  • Ramping up Security: Real-time backgrounds checks and data-stream monitoring can provide automated security against groups or people of interest and can integrate with state security departments to increase security at airports and other travel terminals.

The LDSv2 extension of functionality to Extended Access Control (EAC)/Supplemental Access Control (SAC) standard passports in the ICAO pipeline will drive a new generation of e-passports with write functionality. In theory, this would allow data to be written into the Identity Certificate (IC) held within the passport, and while this may integrate with e-Visa (with the possibility of storing the application on the credential or even a mobile device), the requirement for identical reader certification requirements at both the country of exit and entry could prove difficult to overcome. Furthermore, there may be political unease with allowing another country to write data into another nation’s passport, especially if there is conflict in that nation.


Given the numerous projects in the pipeline, increasing rates of international travel and changing political situations (the departure of the United Kingdom from the EU, for instance), ABI Research believes the uptick in the presence of e-Visa applications will continue to increase. New projects will be implemented throughout the coming years as nation-states look inwardly at the equilibrium between the security of their borders and individuals’ right of freedom of movement.


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