India becomes top migrant resource

Notwithstanding the number of complaints that Indian Newslink receives from potential migrants, student applicants and others from India about delayed responses from Immigration New Zealand (INZ), officials have claimed that the performance rate of offices in Delhi and Mumbai is high and within accepted standards.

While the ‘Question and Answer’ format is not the norm that this newspaper follows, we have done so here in the interest of clarity and accuracy.

Readers may respond to or address their complaints, if any, directly to the Deputy Chief Executive of INZ as per details given here.

Following were our questions, followed by answers from INZ.

What is the maximum period that INZ takes to complete the processing of a ‘typical application’ after it has been submitted with all documents? This of course is when INZ accepts EOI from applicants. We are told by some that it has taken up to five years. Is this an exaggeration?

The time taken to process an application varies, depending on the category. There are only two categories of application that have an Expression of Interest (EOI) process; the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) and the Parent Category. Both are residence categories.

Skilled Migrant Category

Our New Delhi branch is currently managing around 100 SMC applications.

Decisions on these applications typically take around six to nine months from the time the application is allocated to an immigration officer.

This timeframe is comparable to other offshore branches.

Parent Category

The Immigration Minister announced the closure of the Family Parent category on May 16, 2012, along with the Sibling/Adult Child categories of residence.

New parent residence class visa category instructions were introduced on July 30, 2012. The new Parent Category replaced the Family Parent category and takes priority over existing applications lodged in the Family Parent category.

Immigration New Zealand is limited in the number of resident visas it can grant under the Parent Category each year to around 4000. This number is determined by the New Zealand Residence Programme and the number of people approved through other residence categories.

Because more people are interested in applying under the Parent category than the places available, the applications not processed in any year are placed in a queue. It can take some time for an EOI or an application to reach the front of the queue.

Current estimates are that EOIs and applications lodged under the Family Parent Category (i.e. applications lodged before that category was closed in May 2012) may take five years to process. This estimated timeframe applies at all INZ branches around the world and all applicants in these categories face the same delays.

New Delhi branch has advised applicants who are in the queue for the Family Parent category to check if they are eligible to apply under the new Parent category and if so to submit an EOI under that category. If their EOI is selected, they will be invited to lodge a new application and INZ will waive the application fee.

More information on the changes to immigration family residence categories is available on the INZ website.

Some applicants for PR state that INZ tells them at some stage that they would only be issued with ‘Work to Residence’ visas and that they would have to obtain a genuine job offer after which INZ will consider approving their Work Permits. Is this correct? If yes, are all PR applicants from India issued only ‘Work to Residence’ visas? If not, on a scale of one to 10, how many would get ‘PR’ and how many ‘Work to Residence?’ Please explain why.

Work to Residence (WTR) is one of three possible outcomes for an application made under the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC); the other outcomes being Approve or Decline. WTR essentially defers a decision on the residence application and allows the applicant to travel to New Zealand on a work visa to find skilled employment.

Around 50% of SMC applicants from India are approved residence each year, and most are approved without having a job offer. A small proportion of SMC applicants from India are issued WTR visas in any year.

In the current financial year (from July 1, 2012), so far, 52 applicants from India have been approved residence and 43 applications have been declined because the applicants did not have enough points.

Twenty applicants have been offered WTR in the same period.

We have a few cases of qualified people who arrived in New Zealand nine months ago on ‘Work to Residence Visas.’ In all such cases, they obtained genuine job offers (issued by well-known large companies) between September and October 2012. INZ responded to their applications in January 2013, gave them five days to obtain another confirmation from their prospective employers. They have complied and (as on February 5, 2013), nothing has happened. We are asked, “Why does INZ subjects us to such long delays? Most employers are now getting disgusted.” We have verified these cases with employers for their veracity. The question asked by many is, “How long can such people live on their savings? Why not do away with Work to Residence visas?”

We would need more information about these applicants in order to provide a response. Alternatively, we would encourage the employers and/or the applicants to contact their local INZ office.

We are not sure if the higher authorities are aware of some of the ‘genuine complaints,’ and inordinate delays in approving work permits of people for several months. These people stand the risk of losing everything after coming to New Zealand.

As at January 31, 2013, our New Delhi and Mumbai branches were processing 90% of temporary entry applications within 24 days. This meets the expected standard for visa processing branches and certainly cannot be described as an ‘inordinate delay.’

Some work visa categories, namely those based on partnership with someone in New Zealand, are complex and take longer to process. This is because the applicant needs to meet two distinct areas of immigration instructions – the work visa category and the partnership category. These applications can take up to four months to assess and applicants are advised of this timeframe when they lodge their application.

New Delhi and Mumbai branches do not receive a high volume of complaints from work visa applicants about delays in visa processing. It is also worth noting that in the most recent INZ Customer Satisfaction Survey, New Delhi scored 93% and Mumbai 91% for ‘overall satisfaction with the quality of service’ – the highest results for the South Asia region.

We encourage any customer who has a complaint to follow the complaints process set out on the INZ website:

If a customer is not satisfied with the Branch Manager’s response to their complaint, they can contact the Deputy Chief Executive (Immigration), Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, P O Box 3705, Wellington 6140; Fax: +04-9156278; Email:

Some licenced immigration advisers have told us that they have stopped accepting PR applications “because of the unfriendly policies of INZ’ and have asked us to ‘request INZ to declare that it does not want Indians to migrate to New Zealand.’

It is difficult to understand these types of comments. The approval rates for applications from the Indian market remains consistent with previous years.

The branches in India score highly on customer service and in internal quality assurance processes undertaken at INZ’s National Office in Wellington.

The following information from the June 2012 Migration Trends Key Indicators report is informative and shows that these types of comments are not based on fact:

The top source countries for residence approvals in 2011-2012 were UK (15%), China and India (13% each), the Philippines (8%), and Fiji and South Africa (6% each).

Compared with the previous year, there was an increase in residence approvals from India (24%), China (3%), and the Philippines (3%), while there was a decrease in residence approvals from South Africa (34%), Fiji (14%), and UK (8%).

India has overtaken UK as the top source country for SMC principal applicants in 2011-2012. The number of SMC principal applicants from India increased by 27% from 2010-2011. The increase from India is mainly due to former Indian international students whose transited to temporary work and then to permanent residence.

Frustration seems to be around student permits as well.

In order to enable us to provide an informed response, please elaborate the specific concerns around student visa processing.

In the current financial year (from July 1, 2012), 90% of student applications have been processed within 24 days, again meeting the required standard.

Applicants applying through the New Zealand Specialist Agent (NZSA) programme enjoy a guaranteed 10-day processing timeframe.

In the financial year (July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012), 10,341 student visas were approved for Indian nationals.

We do not receive a high level of complaints about student visa processing and customer service feedback indicates a high level of service is being delivered.

Again, we encourage any customer who has a complaint to follow the complaints process as set out on the INZ website.

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