The eVisa (electronic Visa) system in the Kingdom of Bahrain is an online method for travellers to Bahrain and local sponsors to find information on visas, securely apply and pay for eVisas, and track the progress of their eVisa application. The eVisa system was recently chosen for local, regional and global eContent awards by the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).
The General Directorate of Nationalities, Passports and Residence (GDNPR) is responsible for managing immigration procedures through Ports of Entry – land, sea and air – for the Kingdom of Bahrain, and for contributing to government efforts to support tourism, trade and national security. In 2003, GDNPR engaged SITA Inc. to deliver an eBorders solution to further the objectives of GDNPR’s Strategic Plan. The eBorders project is aimed to give better information to GDNPR for decision-making, while making it easier for genuine travellers to enter Bahrain.
The eBorders project was also aligned with the e-Government strategy for the Kingdom of Bahrain, where GDNPR has stated objectives including progress to an online presence allowing customers to interact and transact online, providing customer-focused services, systems and processes, eliminating manual application forms and utilizing workflow to make back-office business processes more efficient and encouraging electronic payment.
The eBorders project included an eVisa system, which went live as a Proof of Concept in May 2004. This system was the first in the Middle East and one of the first of its kind in the world. The Proof of Concept was migrated to a full system in November 2004.
The eVisa system
The eVisa system (www.evisa.gov.bh) is a secure online method allowing customers to apply and pay for visas for entry into the Kingdom of Bahrain. In addition, the system is a workflow-driven visa-vetting tool for GDNPR back-office staff. The functional part of the eVisa system, being the data capture, processing and display, is built with Java Server Pages (JSPs), processed by a Tomcat server. Supporting the JSPs are programme modules, written in Java, where the bulk of the processing is done.
There are a variety of eVisas available through the eVisa system, and these can be separated into two categories – sponsored and unsponsored. Sponsored eVisas require a Bahraini company to register online before receiving usernames and passwords for allowing nominated company users to make eVisa applications. Whenever the sponsors logon they will only see the visas they are eligible to apply for. This is governed by the type of organisation.