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New Zealand partner visa applications to be reconsidered by Immigration New Zealand (INZ) following Ombudsman investigation

November 25th, 2013
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15/11/2013

After receiving a number of complaints from New Zealand partner visa applicants, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has been forced to re-evaluate hundreds of visa applications processed by its Mumbai and New Delhi offices.

The initial 14 complaints were received regarding whether or not these offices had properly considered applications from partners of current student and work visa holders residing in New Zealand. The main point of the complaints was that too much focus had been placed upon whether the applicants for New Zealand partner visas had sufficient incentive to return home. These complaints were subsequently reviewed by the Ombudsman and upheld, meaning that all 14 cases were to be reassessed, as well as hundreds of other similar applications.

After a large number of visa applications were re-evaluated, some truly surprising figures emerged. First of all, it was found that 60 New Zealand Visa applications considered by these two Indian offices were incorrectly declined. Subsequent investigation revealed that they were potentially 459 more visa applications where errors in their processing were made. These incorrect decisions and mistakes affected some applicants who had had more than one previous application refused, and at a cost of NZ$200 per application. Meanwhile, some other incorrectly processed visa applications were refused despite all of the requirements being met, including proof that the relationship was genuine, as well as the financial and educational requirements. Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has stated that all affected visa applicants have now been contacted.

The initial 14 complaints which led to the Ombudsmen inquiry, and subsequent reassessment of New Zealand Visa applications, were primarily made by professional immigration advisers and the New Zealand Association for Migration and Investment (NZAMI) – New Zealand’s leading professional association for immigration specialists. NZAMI then carried out its own enquiries which found that the Indian INZ offices in question had been refusing visa applications at a far higher rate than any other. Walter Stone, the chairman of NZAMI, was quoted as saying that this showed a “lack of training and bias” in these two offices. In response to this unfortunate sequence of events, Immigration New Zealand has not only contacted the affected applicants and agreed to re-evaluate their applications, but also that none of the staff who dealt with the original processing would be involved. Michael Carley, an area manager for IMZ, issued an apology and said that dedicated specialists would be dealing with the applications as a matter of priority.

This whole debacle has reflected very poorly upon INZ. Not only were numerous cases incorrectly processed and refused, but this has led to an expensive bill for the New Zealand taxpayer with up to 500 cases being re-evaluated. On top of that, recent research has shown that allowing partners to join with international students in New Zealand adds approximately NZ$2.6 billion and 20,000 jobs to the national economy, so having some applications incorrectly declined effectively damages the economy.

New technology is introduced for New Zealand partner visa applications

August 26th, 2013
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New Zealand has been planning for some time to make the visa application service totally digital by 2015 and in the next step to reach that target deadline, INZ (Immigration New Zealand) has recently unveiled plans to start using a new technology, Immigration Online. Also known as the Immigration Global Management System, or IGMS, Immigration Online was approved by the New Zealand government in November 2011 and has an $80 million budget.

The aim of this innovation is to make all visa applications independent of actual offices involving paper applications and thus speed up the process by making information sharing both simpler and faster. The aim of INZ is that all applications and the decision-making process will be completed online for all visas by 2014. Included in this will be New Zealand partner and spousal visa applications made under the family spouse migration category and de facto partner policy.

The technology will soon be in place to upload scans of all documents necessary to support an application for a visa. These include photographs, driving licence and passport and INZ believe that this will speed up the process considerably. The Immigration Online platform will be accessible by other government agencies, meaning that personal information which previously had to be laboriously collected from different sources will be able to be quickly shared online. This means that institutions such as schools and colleges, migration agents, potential employers and law enforcement bodies will be able to share information although there is a very necessary rule built in to the use of the Immigration Online platform to make sure that the applicant’s personal privacy is treated with due respect. The information will not be shared with any agency no directly involved with the application or the decision-making process which follows.

IGMS has a wide role to play in the prevention of criminal behaviour and immigration fraud as it will be used to share biometric information, which is a very precise set of parameters used by law enforcement agencies and others to tell one person from another. This will virtually wipe out the practice of a different person trying to enter the country from the one whose details were used to process the visa application. For most people who apply honestly, however, the main advantage of the introduction of Immigration Online is that it will speed up visa decisions, meaning that families will be reunited with New Zealand citizens much more quickly.

New fees and health screening changes to New Zealand visa applications

September 2nd, 2009
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Two important changes to the New Zealand partner visa application process have come into effect since the beginning of August 2009.

The first change relates to the fees for family class applications, including marriage visa and de facto partner visa applications, lodged outside New Zealand from the 17th August onwards. It is important to note that those applications received after the 17th August with the old fee will not be accepted. This change is as a result of the significant currency changes over the past few months and, as such, does not relate to applications made within New Zealand and paid for in New Zealand dollars.

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