Electronic Visa Waiver - Alpha Assessment

The report from the alpha assessment of the Home Office's Electronic Visa Waiver on 14 October 2015.

Department / Agency:
Home Office

Date of Assessment:
14/10/2015

Assessment stage:
Alpha

Result of Assessment:
Pass

Lead Assessor:
J. Thornett

Service Manager:
J. Dos Remedios

Digital Leader:
M. Parsons


About the service

The Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW) process was introduced as an alternative to a visa for nationals of Oman, Qatar and UAE in January 2014. The EVW process requires users to submit information via an online form up to 48 hours prior to travel which then enables them to travel to the UK without a visa, meaning they don’t need to attend visa interviews, submit biometrics, etc. The information gathered through the EVW form is sent for checks prior to the scheduled travel, however, there is no feedback to the applicant and it is not a decision making process.

Outcome of Service Assessment

After consideration the assessment panel has concluded the Electronic Visa Waiver service is on track to meet the Digital Service Standard at this early stage of development.

Reasons

The team have used a throwaway prototype to design, test and iterate the new service in a way that has allowed to learn quickly about what users need from this service and how to improve the user experience as quickly and simply as possible. The way the team were able to use the prototype kit to do this was exactly how it was originally envisaged. It would be good for the team to blog about this experience for other teams in government to learn from.

Having previously worked on the Registered Traveller service in Home Office the team are comfortable working with agile methods and are looking to reuse many components previously built for other services. The new Electronic Visa Waiver service also integrates with a backend caseworking service that was designed for the Registered Traveller service — bringing further benefits to the end-to-end business process and not just the front-end user experience.

There is no need to provide assisted digital support as the users are non-British citizens overseas. If the scope of the service changes, the team may need to provide assisted digital support. Further information on assisted digital policy is available in the government service design manual.

Recommendations

  • The team should collect data from the existing Electronic Visa Waiver service being used in United Arab Emirates, Quatar, and Oman, in order to provide some benchmark performance information for the replacement service. This should include suitable benchmarks for the 4 mandatory KPIs where possible, and other performance information relevant to the service. For instance, the number of applications per year, number of people offloaded per year etc. This will be particularly important for considering expected levels of performance for the new service when it is rolled out to additional countries beyond private beta.

  • It would be great to see the team blog about their experience of improving the form design. This discussion from the W3C about collecting name data seemed quite appropriate. Other teams in government, such as at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, might learn from this.

  • As the team develop the service for private beta it will be important to measure the success of the bilingual user experience approach being used — whereby English and Arabic instructions are present on screen at the same time. It is important to test the effectiveness of this approach on appropriate devices across mobile, tablet and desktop. It is likely to be of benefit to other government services to understand if this approach provides a good user experience and if it could be adopted into government design patterns in the future.

Summary

The panel would like to thank the service team for the excellent work they have done so far to develop a service based on the needs of users, using good agile techniques to integrate user research into the iterative design process.

The team had prepared well for the alpha assessment and we look forward to seeing how the service progresses into the next phase of development.

Digital Service Standard criteria

Criteria Passed Criteria Passed
1 Yes 2 Yes
3 Yes 4 Yes
5 Yes 6 Yes
7 Yes 8 Yes
9 Yes 10 Yes
11 Yes 12 Yes
13 Yes 14 Yes
15 Yes 16 No
17 Yes 18 Yes

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