Expressing satisfaction on Immigration New Zealand's response to the delays in visa processing times – a growing concern of the community - the Minister for Immigration Iain Lees-Galloway has brushed off the delays in visa processing as mere "operational issues" of Immigration New Zealand.
"This is an operational issue of Immigration New Zealand. They are taking it seriously, but it is their responsibility to sort this out," Mr Lees-Galloway told The Indian Weekender.
The Minister was at The Indian Weekender's studio on Monday, July 15, to respond to some of the teething immigration issues that the Kiwi-Indian community has been facing lately, of which unexplained delays in visa processing times was of significant concern.
"Let's not lose sight of the fact that INZ has taken a million decisions on visas over the last year.
"They are experiencing a record volume across all of the categories, and a lot of visas are decided in a timely fashion.
"I am concerned about visa processing times. I have written to the Chief Executive of Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) about my concerns, and I am receiving regular updates on what they are doing to get that visa processing times down," Mr Lees-Galloway said.
Focus on "consistency," and not on timely decision-making
When further quizzed about INZ's perceived selective and probably sluggish response to the pain of a delay in visa processing times, the Minister explained that the INZ was focussed on bringing "consistency" in decision-making.
"INZ is responding to consistency issues on visa applications by restructuring their processes.
"INZ have restructured all of the visa categories in the way they process applications. What they are now doing is particular office focus on a particular category of visa
"The idea is that they can bring more consistency to the decision making," Mr Lees-Galloway asserted backing INZ.
However, what it does imply is that in the pursuit of "consistency in decision-making" the INZ is failing to deliver the service in a timely manner – at least this is the perception that is going out in the community.
Many members of the public watching interview live on The Indian Weekender's web portal, and subsequently speaking over the phone, expressed their disillusionment with the explanation on delays in visa processing.
"Used to be three months but now god knows," asked one exasperated member of public on social media post.
"Why the processing is slowing down as the operational people are still the same in this government," following up with an exclamatory assertion.
Sharing their growing frustration on the partnership-visa delays, one social media user Dev Patel said, "I m coming up to six months for my wife's visa."
"Yeah, I am also waiting for more than five months for my husband visa," Priyanca Patel, another member of public shared their frustration on the Minister's response on the explanation for the delay in visa processing.
Another social media user Mandeep Taheem shared sentiments by posting a comment, "INZ website says that 95 per cent of partnership-based visa will take 45 days to come up to a decision and my wife visa is still not allocated to case officer yet."
However, the Minister rightly remaining oblivious to those frustrations, expressed satisfaction in INZ's response to the delay in visa processing times.
Is INZ's "risk-profiling" approach a "racial-profiling?"
The Indian Weekender's questioned the Minister's backing of INZ's "risk-profiling approach," if it meant racial profiling, as such perception with some section of the community is fast growing.
"They are taking a more risk-based approach to their decision making and categorising applications as high-risk or low-risk.
"No visa application can be declined purely on the basis of race or ethnicity," the Minister asserted.