The ten days wait time for allocation of a case officer to an Essential Skill Work Visa application, is likely to be delayed to six weeks, as Immigration New Zealand enters into the peak season ahead, amidst dealing with the shutdown of its Beijing office.

This is likely to further increase the wait time for the processing time of essential skills visa applications, which according to INZ website currently is around 64 days, where 90 per cent of all applications are completed.

The outbreak of the Coronavirus and the efforts of the Chinese government in closing down businesses and cities, which resulted in the temporary closure of INZ’s Beijing office, is having a fallout on an already over-burdened temporary visa processing queue in New Zealand.

INZ’s Beijing Office, which had become the hub of temporary-visa processing from all around the world in the last couple of years, has been closed since Chinese New Year on January 24, 2020.

The Beijing office generally decides around 10,000 visa applications every week and is responsible for processing around 50 per cent of all temporary applications decided by INZ annually. The closure of the Beijing office means a reduction of 130 immigration officers to process visas.

Catriona Robinson, Associate Deputy Chief Executive, Immigration New Zealand told the Indian Weekender in a statement that INZ has considered a number of options for managing the impact of the Beijing office closure on visa processing going forward.

“However, regardless of what actions INZ takes, it is likely that processing times for visitor, student and work visa applications will increase in the coming weeks due to the drop in immigration officers available to process visas,” Catriona Robinson said.

“Applications that would normally be processed by Beijing continue to come in daily, and INZ has already transferred around 12,000 to other offices.”

“There are currently 13,400 applications on hand in Beijing. Of these, 6,200 relate to individuals in China who are unable to travel to New Zealand due to the restrictions,” Ms Robinson said.

“To help manage the volume of applications being transferred from the Beijing office, INZ has dedicated 50 immigration officers who currently process temporary work visa applications to work on visitor and student visa applications.

“This will help us ensure that student and visitor visa applications continue to be decided within normal timeframes,” Ms Robinson told the Indian Weekender.

However, INZ warns to prospective visa applicants that processing times for applications that are not submitted with all the required documentation or require further verification will take longer than usual

Meanwhile, INZ is encouraging all applicants to ensure they have provided all the required documentation with their application and that they have submitted their application well ahead of their intended travel or visa renewal date.