Phase 1 of the One-off residence visa applications opens on December 1, and it is a significant day in New Zealand's immigration history. Applicants who have already applied for residence under the Skilled Migrant or Residence from Work categories on or before September 29 2021, or have submitted a Skilled Migrant Category Expression of Interest, and have included their dependent child in the Expression of Interest aged 17 years or older on September 29' 2021, are eligible to apply under phase 1 which opens at 6 am this Wednesday.

Under the One-off residence programme, which is expected to see 165,000 migrants getting residence, Immigration New Zealand expects about 15,000 applications in Phase 1. In Phase 2, which opens on March 1 2022, all other eligible applicants can apply, including those who have submitted a Skilled Migrant Category Expression of Interest.

Since migrants have been waiting for a long time for this day, the anxiety is bound to be there. Most migrants do not want to delay their application and want to make sure that their application is lodged on December 1 itself. The applicants and even the immigration advisors and lawyers are preparing themselves for Wednesday as their clients are pressuring them to get their application through on December 1. It may be noted that Immigration has not yet revealed the application form, which would only be uploaded on Wednesday.

Indian Weekender spoke to migrants and immigration experts on how they are prepping for Wednesday, the pressures they are facing, and more.

‘I will wake up early’

Manpreet Kaur, a healthcare worker who lodged her application under the Skilled Migrant category in March 2020, which is still in the queue, now wants to apply under the One-off category. The 30-year-old who hails from Punjab says, "I have been waiting for my residency for years. I even lodged by skilled migrant application almost 20 months ago. Since the one-off applications are opening this Wednesday, I will ensure that my application gets lodged on the same date. Since the process will start at 6 am, I will wake up early to make sure that I get to lodge my application as soon as possible. I want everything to go smoothly."

‘I am feeling stressed’

Pooja, another migrant eligible under Phase 1 says, "I can't tell you the stress that I am facing to get my application lodged on December 1 itself. I don't want to delay submitting my application even for a day. I have waited for long, and now I want my application to reach Immigration on the very first date to be processed quickly. For the last few weeks, I have just been working on getting the paperwork sorted so that I can lodge my application on December 1."

Immigration experts are busy with requests from their clients to lodge their applications on Wednesday. Hence, there has been quite a significant level of pressure despite there being no prejudice if it's filed after December 1.

“All of our clients who are eligible under Phase 1 are demanding that I lodge their application on December 1. That has built pressure on me. At this point, we’re making sure that each client's application is ready to submit on December 1 with all the required documents by checking and double-checking the information that we are going to need to submit,” says immigration advisor Jagjeet Singh Sidhu of Immigration Matters.

Sharing the sentiment, Arran Hunt of Stace Hammond, says he will try his best to put his client’s application as quickly as possible on Wednesday. “There is pressure due to the number of applications that we will be submitting as quickly as possible on the first day. We will be starting from the moment the system allows us, looking to put our clients as far to the front of the queue as possible,” he said.

Immigration lawyer Aaron Martin of NZ Immigration Law believes it would have been better if a version of the application form was made available to review before application opening. He says, “If the INZ form was available beforehand, we could ensure that all relevant data was on hand for new clients before the opening of the category. it would have been better if they had also been able to open up the ability to prepare applications in the online system before being able to file on Wednesday.”

Another concern for many is that since thousands of people would want to apply their application online almost simultaneously, whether that would cause the technical issue in the immigration website or, in the worst scenario, cause it to crash?

Former immigration minister and advisor Tuariki Delamere says, "If 15,000 persons try to apply on Wednesday, I expect the system will crash. Even in the past, there have been issues when there has been very high demand. One can expect technical issues to arise from over-demand on the system.”