Case study – Department of Immigration and Border Protection

A case study documenting implementation of an online self-service facility, ImmiAccount.


Awards for Digital Excellence - Winner 2015

An online self-service facility – ImmiAccount, allows clients to use a secure online account to digitally manage visa applications. ImmiAccount integrates a single accessible user interface based on open and reusable standards and aligns with back-end systems operating on different technology platforms. Benefits include a greater focus on higher value tasks, increased client satisfaction and improved information accessibility.

Agency overview

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) is Australia’s trusted global gateway with immigration responsibility for controlling the flow of people across Australian borders, managing the entry and stay of temporary and permanent migrants, of those people participating in humanitarian and refugee programmes and managing the grant of citizenship. DIBP also focuses on the movement of goods across Australia’s border through complex supply chains and the collection of border revenue and trade and travel statistics.

The increased connectedness of the global economy, and more complex supply chains for the movement of goods and people, require technological advancements and increased cooperation with international partners to manage these movements efficiently. In the next four years, our border systems will need to manage estimated growth of 23 per cent in people travelling into and out of Australia, 16.5 percent in student visas, 17 per cent in sea cargo movements, 54 per cent in air cargo movements and around 23 per cent in people applying to be Australian citizens.


DIBP seeks to improve customer facilitation, without compromising the security of its systems through increased use of biometrics, automated gates and trusted trade schemes. This approach reduces red tape, promotes simplicity and facilitation through self-service options.

One such self-service facility is referred to as the ImmiAccount where, by using a secure online account, clients are able to manage visa applications in one place and in a digitised format from start to finish. Clients in the broadest sense, include both non-citizens seeking entry and stay in Australia, through to organisations (such as registered migration agents, education and tourist agents and sponsoring companies) representing applicants.

Project objectives

The concept of the ImmiAccount was formed and shaped by the need to address key departmental drivers including:

  • The need to reduce processing times from lodgement through to decision;
  • The need to deliver services more efficiently and effectively including better information management; and
  • The need to support electronic lodgement uptake through improved client services.

Reasons for the project

The reasons for the development of the ImmiAccount were to drive service delivery improvements to the department’s international client base, while also meeting government objectives of reducing processing costs and increasing revenue. ImmiAccount was introduced to provide clients with information and products that they would otherwise obtain through personal contact with the department.

Improvements in service delivery to clients includes providing more options in terms of channels available to deal with DIBP, and more opportunity to conduct their business with the department in an end-to-end virtual environment. This negates the need for the client to step out of the e-channel for a face-to-face interaction. Furthermore, ImmiAccount is assisting DIBP to meet the needs of clients who have the equipment, the technological proficiency and personal preference to share information with the department in a digital format.

Project execution

During the design phase, the project team used a combination of paper based mock-ups and working prototypes to ensure the system was delivering a process and a client experience that met key usability bench marks. During the testing phase, the project ran a number of live usability sessions with users to assess how well the system supported their needs as well as how easy the system was to use and understand.

In November 2013, ImmiAccount went live for use, offering clients a usable, intuitive and accessible visa platform. ImmiAccount’s implementation has provided greater focus on higher value tasks performed by departmental staff through a reduction in handling low-value transactions where such transactions are now being performed by the client using an online self-service model.

The shift to higher value tasks is reliant upon a digitised workload and the capacity for staff to make more informed decisions. In terms of information technology, ImmiAccount, through the use of open and reusable standards, is helping to align DIBP back-end systems operating on disparate technology platforms through a single and highly-accessible user interface.

Project outcomes

The successful delivery of ImmiAccount has provided DIBP with a strategic digital footprint to deliver more online services across its business lines. ImmiAccount enables us to keep processes digitised from the start of our engagement with clients ie we allow upload of all documents by applicants that support the visa application, and store them for later retrieval - the whole process continues to evolve how we offer digital services to our client base.

There are additional benefits to be realised through further enhancements of ImmiAccount which have occurred since November 2013. These benefits include:

  • Greater back-end integration of supporting departmental systems;
  • Greater uptake of new account holders through the provision of new online services;
  • Increased client confidence and satisfaction associated with their immigration dealings through an easy-to-use system that supports process transparency and account integrity through a robust online security architecture; and
  • Improved information accessibility through a single and central source of truth for immigration business dealings.

Accessing the ImmiAccount includes the ancillary systems that support clients to manage:

  • health declarations;
  • find the right visa;
  • establish work rights and the cost of a visa;
  • apply for citizenship by descent;
  • advise the department about changes to passport, postal and residential addresses;
  • import paper applications (some); and
  • visibility of correspondence.

In addition, DIBP is developing mobile apps for clients to see more information in a range of technologies.

The success of ImmiAccount is clearly demonstrated by the volume of transactions it has processed over a short timeframe. With now over 1.8 million users, more than 2.3 million applications and $1 billion in revenue collection, future projections indicate that ImmiAccount will grow at a rate commensurate with increased visa volumes.

Its success is attributed to the ease of using the service and the flexibility it allows clients to undertake transactions when and how it best suits their needs, be it how they pay for their visa or the support services available prior to submitting an application to ensure they are getting the right product.

As a platform for the future, ImmiAccount is positioning DIBP to be a leader in the digital arena, while also anticipating future government digital agendas. This includes the plan to integrate ImmiAccount into the eGovernment framework to allow the seamless transition from relevant visa-holder to a consumer of Government services, thus aligning with the current push towards Whole of Government digital transformation.

* case study as supplied by the agency, with minor formatting changes made by the Archives

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2019