Staff Reporter –
Visitors and migrant workers to New Zealand can file their respective applications online instead of visiting Embassies, High Commissions and Consular Offices, according to Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse.
Immigration New Zealand (INZ) began the online scheme recently, which Mr Woodhouse described as ‘fantastic news,’ but whether the new system will make those in charge of border security grin or chagrin remains to be seen.
‘Immigration Online’ is the way forward in an increasingly digitalised world but departments like immigration must achieve a fine balance between convenience and national security.
According to Mr Woodhouse, about 60% of visa applications can now be made online and the online capability will be extended to 80% as a result of an additional capital investment of $28.4 million in Budget 2015.
“The extra funding will enable INZ to improve the technology to extend Immigration online for family groups and tour groups to apply similar to a single visa. It will also be used to increase automation so that applications can be processed anywhere in the world, resulting in quicker processing times for customers,” he said.
The scheme is now applicable to Licenced Immigration Advisers and Immigration Lawyers, who can now lodge visa applications online on behalf of their clients and others such as education providers and employers. They can also assist students and employees to lodge their relevant applications.
“The roll out of online Work and Visitor visas follows the success of online student visa applications which have been available online since August last year,” Mr Woodhouse said.
Citizens from countries that enjoy ‘Visa Waiver’ status (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Fiji are not on the list) can obtain ‘E-Visas’ (normally mentioned as ‘Label-less’ and ‘Passport-less’) to onshore Work and Visitor Visa applicants.
Mr Woodhouse claimed that ‘Immigration Online’ makes the visa process easier and faster.
“It supports some of our key export industries such as tourism and export education, which have already benefitted from more visitors and international students. It is also a good example of our public service making greater use of technology to deliver better services,” he said.