Immigration New Zealand (INZ) will review hundreds of applications which were recently rejected, following a ruling by Ombudsman.
The Department has apologised to the affected applicants.
Readers may recall that Indian Newslink has been reporting about allegations of discrimination against many applicants in India by INZ officials based in Delhi and Mumbai. It appears that an Ombudsman who independently investigated at least 14 such complaints, had upheld them.
It is understood that the complainants had said that they were victims of incorrect assessment and that INZ had made serious errors in its decisions.
As a follow-on effect, INZ is currently reassessing a number of declined visa applications made by partners of work and student visa holders who want to join their partners in New Zealand.
Simon Smith, who recently took charge as the National Manager of INZ in Delhi, tendered the Department’s apology in a statement to Indian Newlink.
“INZ would like to apologise for this error and I want to take this opportunity to reassure affected customers that their applications will be reassessed as a matter of priority by dedicated specialists in our Indian offices. Extra staff training has taken place in India following this case. We place huge importance on our customer service and I am confident that these changes will result in a big improvement,” he said.
Mr Smith said that INZ has completed reassessing all the applications, except for two cases for which the Department is awaiting further information from the applicants.
He admitted that following the complaints to the Ombudsman, there may be other similar cases which may need reassessment.
“We had just over 60 applications on hand in INZ India offices when this issue was raised by the Ombudsman. We expect to have all these processed by the end of October. We have also proactively identified 480 potentially affected applicants whose partnership applications were declined after July 2011 on ‘bona fides’ or ‘bona fides and partnership’ grounds. We will be reassessing these applications as efficiently and effectively as we can and aim to complete the process by the end of January next year,” he said.
But he cautioned people not to flood INZ offices with queries, documents or material that could only cause further delays.
“INZ will contact all the potentially affected applicants by October 17 to advise them of the outcome of the initial review. Applicants who will have their case reassessed, may be asked for fresh information,” Mr Smith said.
“People should not contact INZ to ask whether their case will be reviewed and/or send any additional information unless requested,” he added.
INZ will complete an initial review of the applications to determine if the original assessment was incorrect and, if it was, a full reassessment will be undertaken.
“We will definitely contact those concerned and if we are swamped with enquiries the whole process will inevitably be slowed down. The reassessments will be undertaken by an Immigration Officer who was not involved in any previous decisions relating to the cases,” Mr Smith said.