Since we are slowly and steadily settling into the new year, there are many expectations that the migrants have from the New Zealand government, mainly from Immigration New Zealand.

 

Last year despite the various hiccups that Immigration NZ faced, it did announce the biggest gift for165,000 migrants in the form of the One-off resident visa programme.

Phase 1 of the processing of the One-off visa began on 1 December 2021, for those who had already applied for residence under the Skilled Migrant or Residence from Work categories on or before September 29, 2021, or had submitted a Skilled Migrant Category Expression of Interest, and had included your dependent child in the Expression of Interest aged 17 years or older on September 29, 2021.

INZ expected around 14000 applications in Phase 1, and the processing had its share of initial problems as the INZ website crashed, leading to the disappointment of many.

 

From 1 March 2022, Phase 2 of the One-off visa will commence for all other eligible applicants, including those who have submitted a Skilled Migrant Category Expression of Interest. Hence, migrants are desperately waiting and preparing for the same.

 

Indian Weekender spoke to Immigration NZ to find out how the processing of the One-off visa has gone so far and how INZ is gearing up for the March Phase, where around 95,000 applications are expected.

 

 

Nicola Hogg, General Manager Border and Visa Operations says, “As of January 11 this year, we have received 12,237 applications, which represents more than 87 percent of the expected 14,000 applications in the first phase. A total of 1,475 applications have already been approved, involving 2,871 people. Of the 1,475 approved applications, 1,273 are in the settled category, 174 in the skilled criteria, 27 in the scare criteria, and one critical purpose visa holder.”

 

INZ maintains that processing applications for the 2021 Resident Visa is a priority for them, and they intend to complete the processing in the announced one-year timeframe. "We are committed to deciding the vast majority of these residence applications within 12 months, with some being much faster. Both the criteria and the assessment process for the 2021 Resident Visa are simpler than the current Skilled Migrant Category process – there are fewer requirements for individuals to meet, and we will use the information we already have about the applicant, such as their visa status, the time spent in NZ and their current employment. This will enable us to process applications quickly. Applications are also submitted online, which helps speed up the processing time,” explains Hogg.

 

Since Phase 2 will see a vast number of applications coming in, Immigration New Zealand says that they will hire more staff so that the processing can take place as scheduled.

 

Giving more details, Hogg said, “A number of our existing INZ staff who currently process other visa products have been retrained to process 2021 Resident Visa applications, and we continue to hire staff to manage attrition and ensure we have enough staff to process all visa categories. We also expect that there will be fewer temporary work visa applications as a result of people applying for and being granted residence under the 2021 Resident Visa category. We are confident we have the appropriate resources to process these applications in a timely manner while ensuring that processing standards for other visa types are maintained.”

 

Interestingly, it seems that Immigration has learned its lesson from the technical glitch they faced during the opening of Phase 1 and will now be using a new IT system for the second phase.

 

“We would like to reassure people that our IT systems have been stable and performing normally since December 3 last year following the initial issues we experienced after the opening of Phase one applications for the 2021 Resident Visa.

We will be using a new system for the second phase of applications for the 2021 Resident Visa, which will have a far greater capacity to deal with the volume of applications. The technology being used is Microsoft Dynamics (D365). It will be cloud-based and use the Microsoft Azure Cloud system.

We would like to remind people that they have plenty of time to apply for their 2021 Resident Visa, with applications open until July 31, 2022,” Hogg said.

 

Immigration experts, too, aren't confident about whether Immigration New Zealand's systems will hold up or how good the new system will be. Immigration lawyer Arran Hunt says, “As we expected, the pace of the phase 1 residence visas is increasing, as the NZ Police Certificates start coming through more regularly. We expect most of the applications under phase 1 to be completed by March 1, 2022. After the issues we saw at the start of phase 1, we aren't confident about whether Immigration NZ's systems will hold up or how good the system will be.

“Phase 1 was originally going to be through a new system but, weeks before it launched, suddenly, we were told they were using the old system. Fortunately, the new system was still there, meaning we had a backup to use while they fixed the issues we all saw. Using this new system, which was developed for phase 1, would make sense, as it removes a number of the issues with how the old system worked. We aren’t sure why they appear to be moving so slowly at times to get working systems in place.

“People would be much more comfortable if there was more information about how things are changing, and if Immigration New Zealand had myself and several other industry experts testing the new system before it goes live. However, it will be hard to know until March 1, 2022. This is their second chance at releasing the 2021 residence visa, and the first one was a failure,” he elaborates.

 

Arran raised another interesting point about delays in the processing of One-Off visas being apparently due to the delay in getting NZ police check and National Security Check. He says, “If the current processing delays are solely down to NZ police certificate and national security checks, then the question may be whether the departments processing those are going to be able to keep up. If it takes the NZ police 20 working days to process police certificates when they have 12,000 applications, how long will it take when they have 100,000 to process? Will the team handling National Security Check be so overwhelmed that we will see those taking six months like they used to, or perhaps even longer?”