Immigration New Zealand has processed only less than 3000 applications of skilled migrant category and residence from work category visas in the last four months.

A spokesperson from the Immigration New Zealand said, “From 1 April 2020 to 26 August 2020, there has been 2,664 application decisions made (including approvals and declines) for SMC and Residence from Work Category.”

The spokesperson was responding to the Indian Weekender’s query around the current processing time on the applications of skilled migrant and residence from work category visas.

Notably, there were 12,594 ‘on hand’ applications in total for the SMC category as of January 1, 2020, and since then Immigration NZ has divided the list under two different categories – priority and non-priority list.

As per the latest update on the INZ website 50 per cent of all SMC & Residnece from Work category visas were processing in seevn months, while the 90 per cent applicatiosn were taking aroun 18 months. 

This includes both the priority and the non-priority queue processing times. 

“To better manage the queue of residence applications going forward, in February 2020 Immigration New Zealand (INZ), with the endorsement of the Minister of Immigration at the time, formalised the priority allocation of some SMC and Residence from Work applications for highly paid applicants and applicants with current occupational registration (where registration is required by Immigration Instructions),” INZ spokesperson said.

However, since the Alert Level 4 lockdown and border closures, INZ has closed a number of visa categories including selections for Expressions of Interest (EOI) for the Skilled Migrant Category and visa processing for offshore applicants, simply for the reason that borders remain closed for everyone except residents and citizens.

“All INZ offices were closed during Alert Level 4 at the end of March 2020 and as a result, the processing of SMC residence applications was on hold during that time. INZ’s onshore offices began opening under Alert Level 3 and 2, however INZ was required to adhere to strict guidelines.

“While the processing of SMC residence applications resumed during Alert Level 2, the number of staff returning to offices was very limited, in line with health and safety requirements, which had an impact on the number of residence applications being work on,” INZ spokesperson said.

Priority queue applications being allocated to case officer in 2-week time

“INZ can confirm that applications in the priority queue are now being allocated within two weeks of an application being put in the priority queue.

Once an application is allocated, an immigration officer will then assess the application to check that the applicant and any family included can be granted a visa. Applicants will be contacted when an application is allocated to an immigration officer.

Priority queue includes principal applicant is onshore and is paid twice the median wage or higher (currently NZD $51 an hour or NZD $106,080 a year), or works in an occupation where registration is required by immigration instructions and holds that registration.

Information for non-priority queue

Meanwhile, those who do not qualify under the priority queue will and are still currently onshore will be required to wait anywhere up to eighteen months – the current processing times as mentioned on INZ website.

Currently, under border closure where INZ is not processing any off-shore based applications in the queue the processing times of non-priority queue has also improved.

As of 25 August 2020, INZ is allocating non-prioritised SMC and Residence from Work applications received in January 2019.