The South Asian Community Leaders Group representing South Asian countries including India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, had met with senior management of Immigration New Zealand just before the Christmas break.

The meeting was part of ongoing engagement with the government to discuss the proposed changes made in the immigration policy affecting migrant communities and finding an amicable solution.

The Immigration New Zealand was lead by Stephen Dunstan - General Manager, Matt Hoskin - National Manager Immigration Engagement, Jeannie Melville - National Manager Education and Tourism, Jason Chand - Relationship Manager and the support staff.

Speaking with The Indian Weekender, Sunny Kaushal, the spokesperson of the Group, said, “It was a good meeting with senior management of Immigration New Zealand, and we had some positive outcomes.”

The agenda included briefing and educating the INZ management about the background, contribution and crucial role the South Asian communities have been playing in the nation-building for over 100 years in NZ.

The Group leaders had expressed their concerns in details on unprecedented situation caused by the delays in the processing of various category visas and the financial, social and cultural costs suffered by the migrant community due to its actions.

Prior to this meeting, members of the public in large numbers had contacted the South Asian Community Leaders Group sending overwhelming written questions online for INZ, were also presented to the INZ management.

A presentation was also given by the INZ officials on draft new policies and operational changes based on previous submissions and feedback submitted by the South Asian communities.

Among the major operational announcement, the demand to overhaul the Mumbai branch that was pressed by the South Asian Community Leaders from the very beginning has been actioned.

The National Manager of Education and Tourism advised that the Mumbai office is being overhauled and numbers of staff are now increased from 35 to 77. A new operational manual and training model has been introduced to bring efficiencies and reduce the delays, a major concern earlier raised by the community leaders. The National Manager also advised that some non-Indian visa applications are now being moved to Beijing and Hamilton offices to make the Mumbai office workload more manageable.

At the end the interactive session, Mr Kaushal submitted a memorandum to the Immigration New Zealand signed by all the community leaders and emphasized the on the need of continued engagement and setting up of a consultation group representing South-East Asian countries. The key submissions included formal structuring of INZ officers’ discretionary powers and transparency in their decision-making process and the need for cultural reports in the culturally arranged marriage visa applications.