In the recent months, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has faced a lot of challenges. There have been reports of uneven processing, exploitation of migrants, and several policy updates, all happening in the run up to the election. But the main spotlight has been on INZ’s relatively “light touch” approach to Visas, which has allowed some less-than-genuine applications to sneak through the system.
As the media spotlight intensified, the previous government felt compelled to address these issues. This led to a shift in INZ’s processing methods, moving towards a more “heavy handed” approach. This change has resulted in increased demands for documentation and, therefore, longer processing times.
Now that the country has voted in a new political leadership (the makeup of which is yet to be confirmed), it will be interesting to see what further changes are rolled out, both in terms of immigration policy and processing capacity.
Visa processing updates
For now, the Accredited Employer Work Visa system remains in place, although it’s experiencing slower processing due to INZ’s heightened emphasis on document review. Furthermore, employers are facing increased scrutiny when it comes to supporting the various job checks and Work Visa applications.
Employers should ensure that their applications are thoroughly prepared with all the necessary information right from the start. What might have snuck through previously, will now potentially lead to questions, delays, and possible failures. We are seeing longer processing times for applications where even minor details are missing. Therefore, preparing a “decision ready” application is crucial.
A well-prepared application on the other hand can still get through in a reasonable timeframe and we have assisted numerous employers and applicants to secure job checks and Work Visas relatively quickly.
What Changes will the change in Government bring?
The National Government has been relatively light on policy announcements when it comes to immigration. They have suggested some additional pathways being created for specific sectors (IT being the focus) and Act have campaigned on loosening up the registration process to make it easier for healthcare professionals to gain entry. Beyond these and a few other “fringe” policies, nothing significant has been said about the core Visa processing systems, particularly the Work Visa and Skilled Migrant streams.
One thing National have however made clear, is that Visa processing costs will potentially increase, to provide increased revenue for other programs (namely their tax policy). Overall, these costs wont impact on businesses significantly as they still represent a small part of the overall recruitment budget, but again, having a strong application, will ensure those costs are worthwhile.
As an industry, we hope that National will take a very close look at the processing part of the equation, to ensure that decisions are being made consistently and swiftly. New policies are useful and opening up access to skills is crucial, but you also have to ensure that the machinery delivering these (INZ), is up to the task.
Staying on top of these changes and also keeping ahead of the swings in processing methods is going to be really important for all employers who rely on the skills that migrants can bring.
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Paul Janssen is the Manager of Turner Hopkins Services, a specialist New Zealand immigration consultancy, based in Takapuna, Auckland. Paul is fully licensed by the Immigration Advisers Authority and has nearly twenty years of industry experience, assisting families, individuals, and businesses to navigate the complexities of the visa system.
Paul and his team work together with their clients, providing realistic and practical advice in a timely and easy to understand manner. Identifying issues at the outset, mapping out the steps involved and managing all aspects of the relocation process.