Contrary to popular belief and in total variance of the hoo-ha made a few months ago in New Zealand, the demand for the so-called ‘Culturally Arranged Visa’ is not high.
Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway told Indian Newslink from Mumbai last fortnight that less than a third of the applicants contacted had responded to the revised scheme.
“Last year, following complaints from people about the rigid requirements of Immigration New Zealand (INZ), email messages were sent to 800 individuals whose applications for visas were declined under the old guidelines. They were asked to submit a new application for a Visitor Visa following changes made to this category. However, to date, only 257 persons have taken up the offer to submit a new application, of which 113 were approved, four declined and the rest are being processed. We are now contacting the others again by email,” he said.
Mr Lees-Galloway, who spent the day with INZ staff in Mumbai today, paid tribute to their dedication and commitment to provide quality service to customers.
“They are all working hard to provide timely service to people. However, the complexity of cases and the need to have in place appropriate verification processes invariably and inevitably causes delays. Our goal is to improve the quality of service and reduce delivery time,” he said.
Student Visa Applications
Mr Lees-Galloway described student visas as a challenge both in terms of quality assessment and the time taken to evaluate them.
“Every application for student visas has to undergo a series of checks and verifications such as qualifications, work experience, financial arrangements and other criteria. An application could be approved in less than half hour or could take weeks depending on the information and documents provided. Not all information can be easily verified,” he said.
“The focus of INZ is to take the right decision and shift from volume to value and ensure that benefit accrues to New Zealand,” he added.
Mr Lees-Galloway said that the number of student visa applications for study at Universities has been on the rise, and that the share of Polytechnics and Private Training Establishments (PTEs) has become smaller.
“International students from India are increasingly becoming aware of the high quality of education offered by Universities in New Zealand. They are also becoming more confident of brighter career opportunities following their education,” he said.
Rogue Education Agents
INZ is aware of some rogue education agents who deliberately mislead students with false promises of ‘automatic jobs’ and ‘automatic residence status’ after their arrival in New Zealand.
While there is no specific plan to go after these agents, INZ constantly engages with education providers who appoint agents.
“However, we are watching the situation very closely and discourage providers from dealing with agents of questionable reputation. I believe that the situation has improved in recent years,” he said.
Visitor Visa delays
While Mr Lees-Galloway sympathised with applicants for visitor visas who experience inordinate delays in getting a response frustrating in many cases organisers of events in New Zealand, his advise to them was, “Please apply well in advance, allowing plenty of time for officials to process the applications and complete the verification process.”
“We have recruited 177 additional staff across INZ offices to cope with the rising demand for our services. Our Mumbai office has about 100 immigration staff, which should be sufficient to meet the current pressure. This office will process mainly student and visitor visas as we have moved Partnership visas to our Hamilton centre. I am confident that people will experience vast improvement in the services provided in Mumbai,” he said.
Permanent Residence Visas
The process for assessing applications for Permanent Residence Visas appears to be on track, Mr Lees-Galloway said.
“The volume of applications in this category is well above predictions. New Zealand is seen as a great destination for migrants to settle, raise families, provide education and pursue career opportunities. I have positive feelings about India,” he said.
- Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway at INZ Mumbai Office on January 15, 2020
- Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway speaking to a member of INZ Staff in Mumbai January 15, 2020