Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse has unveiled a new programme that aims to support businesses, create more jobs and improve the standard of living of people.
Speaking at a recent meeting of the New Zealand Association of Migration and Investment held in Auckland, he said that the programme, known as the ‘Business Growth Agenda,’ focused on six key ‘ingredients’ for progress of commercial and industrial organisations.
“These are export markets, innovation, infrastructure, skilled and safe workplaces, natural resources, and capital markets. Each of these areas has its own programme of work and the immigration policy informs and supports this agenda,” he said.
Mr Woodhouse claimed that according to a survey conducted recently, an overwhelming majority of the clients of Immigration New Zealand (INZ) had expressed satisfaction over the way in which the Department had handled their applications.
He said that 87% of applicants were ‘very satisfied’ or ‘satisfied’ with the overall quality of service that they received and that the result was significantly higher compared to 2011 (75%) 2010 (73%) and 2009 (70%).
“The Survey also found significant improvements in processing times for temporary applications. The average processing time for a visitor or work visa at the 29 branches included in the Survey halved between June 2011 and June 2012. It now takes only a third of the time it took a year ago for student visas,” he said.
The quality of decision-making moved up from 71% in 2009 to more than 90% today.
More than 90% of temporary visa applications are decided within 30 days, he said.
Mr Woodhouse agreed that there was no room for complacency and that he expected INZ to improve its performance, with the full commissioning of the state-of-the-art Immigration Global Management System (IGMS) and the Global Service Delivery Model (GSDM)
IGMS will provide new online channels for customers to access information and submit applications, and will consolidate back office processing functions. This year customers will start to notice the difference with students and temporary workers able to apply for visas online and a new identity management capability being established.
He said that the new systems were examples of the vision of Prime Minister John Key to ensure public sector undertakings and government departments employ greater use of technology to deliver better services.
“GSDM will allow INZ to fully realise and maximise the benefits of the Government’s investment in IGMS. The new service delivery model centralises visa processing, rationalises the branch network, simplifies processes, increases online access and includes greater partnership with third parties,” Mr Woodhouse said.
INZ has launched new Visa Application Centres (VACs) in many parts of the world to foster faster processing of all types of visas.
“VACs act as collection agents for visa applications, leaving more time for immigration officers to focus on decision-making.
“These Centres, already functioning successfully in Asia, Pacific, the Americas, UK and Europe, are a great example of successful collaboration with specialist third party providers,” Mr Woodhouse said.
He said that INZ proposed to establish nine hubs for larger scale visa processing as well as a number of small-to-medium size satellite offices.
“The changes will result in a smarter, leaner and more efficient service,” he said.