Since computers arose and changed the world, our way of interacting, working, and living has been impacted, making technology an important topic of our day-to-day life.
This, in the “traditional” professions, is gaining more field, year after year, like a lawyer who uses the platform to consult precedent, philosophers who use tablets to read books, and even ways to live or work are evolving, like “digital nomads”.
Now in the immigration area, digitalization was in the first place a very important key player, to get information across surveys, statistics, or metrics and helped a lot in making decisions or identifying issues to create public policies (or change them) or establish global mobility policies for international business expansion.
In Global Mobility, we are taking technology quite shyly, but when a process is involved with the support of these important tools it makes it easier the way to support expat and families, who will start this new transition, and collect important information to improve the global mobility policies, as corporative and as supplier.
Now, the immigration processes, are taking several advances to digital platforms, trying to transmit access and information to those who want to initiate a visa process, avoiding physical paperwork, and personal presence in some organisms, and creating faster dynamics to resolved solutions.
Nevertheless, these digitals platforms and other tech tools, are being topics of discussion, for their accessibilities, celerity, access, security, taking pros and cons, like:
Accessibility and Convenience: Digital platforms make immigration processes more accessible to applicants. They can submit applications, upload documents, and track their progress from anywhere, eliminating the need for physical visits to immigration offices. This convenience saves time and resources for both applicants and immigration authorities.
Efficiency and Speed: By digitizing immigration processes, the overall efficiency and speed of application processing can be significantly improved. Automated systems can handle large volumes of applications, reducing processing times and minimizing delays.
Enhanced Data Accuracy: Digital platforms reduce the likelihood of manual errors that can occur when processing paper-based applications. Automation and data validation features can help ensure accurate information is entered, reducing the chances of mistakes, and improving the integrity of the immigration system.
Transparency and Communication: Digital platforms can provide clearer communication channels between applicants and immigration authorities. Real-time updates, status notifications, and online messaging systems help keep applicants informed about the progress of their applications, reducing uncertainty, and improving transparency.
Cost Savings: Implementing digital platforms can lead to cost savings for both applicants and immigration agencies. The reduced need for physical paperwork and in-person appointments can result in lower administrative costs, allowing resources to be allocated more efficiently.
Technological Barriers: Not all applicants may have access to reliable internet connectivity or the necessary technological infrastructure to use digital platforms effectively. This could create a digital divide, disadvantaging certain individuals or communities and hindering their participation in the immigration process.
Privacy and Data Security Concerns: The use of digital platforms involves the collection and storage of personal data. Ensuring robust data protection measures and cybersecurity protocols is essential to prevent data breaches, unauthorized access, or misuse of sensitive information.
User Experience and Learning Curve: Some individuals may find it challenging to navigate and understand the digital platform interface, especially those who are less familiar with technology or have limited digital literacy. User-friendly design and comprehensive support systems should be in place to address usability concerns.
Reliance on Technology: Technical glitches, system failures, or maintenance issues can disrupt the functioning of digital platforms, leading to potential delays and frustrations for applicants. Adequate backup plans and contingency measures should be in place to mitigate such risks and ensure continuity.
Loss of Human Interaction: While digital platforms offer convenience, they may also result in a loss of direct human interaction. Some applicants may prefer face-to-face interactions to address specific concerns or seek personalized guidance during the immigration process.
It is crucial to carefully consider these pros and cons when implementing digital platforms in immigration processes, aiming to strike a balance between efficiency, accessibility, privacy, and user experience, like it’s happening in countries in LATAM, such as:
Colombia and Brazil are one of the first to move forward in the digitalization of immigration processes in the region, and they were getting good results at the beginning, but when problems arose, the system was more of an obstacle, because the authorities avoid the personal attention and the easier answer was “is not my fault, is the system”.
Argentina with the RADEX system at the beginning, created several delays and many troubles with this platform, not only to get an appointment to attend at the migration offices, but also in uploading documents, this was a nightmare for a long time (perhaps I’m still one who thinks Argentinian legislation and system, is one of the best in the region), but in the long term, when the problems were fixed, the view was very different, today you can easily access basic information, carry out immigration process, and guarantee your fundamental rights as a human being.
Chile was a roller coaster because some years ago, they had an old system where everything must be submitted on physical paper, evaluated and attend to stamp the visa too – when digitalization begins, it was created for a few processes without the reality in mind, which was a serious adverse event (old law, not public policies, several increases of application) and of course since 2019, COVID was the best factor to blame. However, one more time, reality forced them to act, and the authorities focused on providing solutions, today we have the best scenario and things look promising.
Also, Chile and Argentina suffered a leak of data from cyberattacks, which is a sensible point, because the personal information of the users can make important damage, like using their identification for the wrong purpose, suffering blackmailing or other negative actions that can become foreign in victims.
On the other hand, countries like Peru, Ecuador, and especially Uruguay, are taking step-by-step a few changes and are taking good profits, but some facts in common of the neighbors are getting involved, which is that technology is not implemented according to the real dynamic, can be an obstacle and not as a tool to improve the migration processes, creating delays to the user who want access and get their visas and work permits on time.
Now according to this, in LATAM we can affirm that technology is getting more field and importance each day, electronic passports, visas, local documents, work permits, and integration of information between different public organisms are being granted by the countries of the region, but, we still worry about the way that immigration is being taken into consideration, because, according to the experiences of the last years, the implementation of the digital platforms and technology is not the problem, instead is the public policies that are not aware of the real condition and reality, using wrongly these tools, and making no progress.
In theory, sounds amazing, but in some real scenarios, when the public policies are not focused to resolve the main point, which is to provide direct and easier access to the organism and information, the digitalization trend can be running backwards for the immigration process – in fact, in some countries they are more focused in implementing the “digitalization” as a political improvement propaganda, and not as a service for the user, without proper training for the authorities, these mechanisms can be implemented in a disorganized manner, with loopholes that can cause instability for foreigners and their fundamental rights.
However, if we have the right perspective, with enough knowledge about the Immigration laws, processes, dynamics, and according to real public policies, the immigration processes in LATAM will be one of the best around the world.
Written by Jorge Flores, GMS-T – LARM Group Business Development Manager