The Danish Refugee, Immigration and Integration Affairs Ministry handles around 68,000 visa applications each year. The Ministry used a locally hosted Integration Ministry Visa Register (IVR) system to get an overview of each case and generate important immigration statistics. But the Ministry needed to integrate its work with Schengen countries and Danish embassies around the world, so it had to update the system. Due to the complexity of the visa process, the Ministry could not use a standard case handling system, so they asked NNIT to develop a solution. The resulting system provides the Ministry’s case handlers with a detailed overview of all applications in the system. It was developed in close cooperation with the case handlers who will use the system, and gives them many new functions as well as an improved electronic workflow to reduce the amount of manual tasks they have to perform.
In today’s global world, IT systems have to run across borders and countries. For the Danish Refugee, Immigrationand Integration Affairs Ministry, this meant developing a digital visa application process that worked not only inDenmark, but also in all the 70 Danish embassies and consulates across the globe. In addition, the system had tomeet requirements placed on Denmark by the Schengen Agreement. The Schengen Agreement has abolished all border controls between twenty-five European countries. It covers an area of 4,312,099 square kilometres and allowsfreedom of movement across borders for around 400 million people. But to maintain national integrity, Schengen countries use biometric data to monitor population movement and have a common database for all visas in the Schengen area. The Ministry’s old visa application system was not sophisticated enough to deal with all the external system integration required, so the Ministry asked NNIT to develop a solution.The Ministry also wanted to reduce the amount of manual work its case handlers have to do when processing visa applications, so NNIT developed automatic functions that reduce the work load for the Ministry’s case handlers.
With so many external systems involved – in Danish embassies and other Schengen countries – NNIT realised that a standard case handling system was not feasible. So the project team suggested a .Net-based solution. The IVR-VIS system has a central server and SQL server at its heart, and uses web services to integrate with embassy and other country systems. The team set up workshops with case handlers at the Ministry to find out their specific needs. After eight workshops, NNIT was able to develop the functions required by case handlers, including a click-once smart client that allowed case handlers to quickly access their own, locally hosted office systems. “The system works very well,” says PeterNiemann Ogstrup, a special consultant at the ministry who worked on the project. “We now have a streamlined workflowthat integrates with both our own embassies and consulates and with all other countries in the Schengen agreement.That gives us a far better co-ordination of cases.”
The Danish Refugee, Immigration and Integration Affairs Ministry began using IVR-VIS at the start of 2008, and casehandlers immediately had access to more comprehensive case overviews, including case lists and individual casestatus reports. As a real-time system, case handlers can see up-to-date status reports on each case, making case handling more accurate, and improving the quality of the statistics collected from the system. Also, with more electronic workflow functions, individual case handlers have access custom list of cases they are working on or cases from a particular country, making it easier to find their current jobs. “More than 80% of visa applications are handled by embassies and consulates outside of Denmark, but the remaining cases are passed to the integration ministry to follow up. With the new system, case handlers can take over a current workflow with the most important information already entered,” adds Peter Niemann Ogstrup.
The Danish Ministry of Refugees, Immigration and Integration Affairs deals with all issues connected with refugee andintegration policy, humanitarian residence permits and residence and permit appeals in Denmark. Its work covers developing policies and guidelines, as well as handling visa applications and appeals. It handles around 68,000 cases each year.