Errors take their toll on migrants

Kamil Lakshman –

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) recently changed its working system to achieve consistency in decision-making, become more efficient, minimise errors, and reduce staff and branches.

But none of these changes addressed the perennial problem of the mind-set of decision makers. As the number of applications rises and thousands of decisions are made, there is bound to be a percentage of error.

Correcting the wrong

How these errors are dealt with when brought to the attention of the management of INZ is important. Is there a gatekeeping approach, since reports and statistics would reflect badly on the management of the branch?

Each branch is rated and awarded accordingly.

Given this, is there really any incentive to accept errors and correct them?

It would be hard to find managers who accept these errors and resolve them without much delay. Their approach should show that there was no vested interest and that the correction process was objective and fair.

Resolving complaints

The current Client Complaint Resolution process is a medium for lodgement of complaint in two stages. If the first stage does not work, then the complainant can pursue the next option.

There are times when some complaints are not lodged in the INZ system and therefore not dealt with at all. On other occasions, it is dismissed and the complaint is marginalised. The view taken is that there is no error and that the complainant is simply unhappy with the decision. This line of reasoning becomes difficult to overcome and the error remains unconsidered.

Increasing stress

The individual (or the complainant) undergoes stress and begins to experience emotional, financial and health loss.

It is hard to quantify the intensity of such stress, the number of people suffering and the value of the losses incurred.

I believe that justice has not been served and the system has failed in such cases.

Unfortunately, these applicants will become victims of immigration history with their interests thrown into jeopardy. They may experience problems in the future as well.

I was involved with a review of this process recently.

The acknowledgment that such problems exist is a step in the right direction.

We look forward to the establishment of an independent unit powered by people with the knowledge, experience and expertise.

Kamil Lakshman is a Lawyer & Principal of Wellington based law firm Idesi Legal Limited. She can be contacted on (04) 4616018 or 021-1598803. Email:; The opinions expressed in her article above are her own and not that of Idesi Legal Limited or the New Zealand Law Society, or its Wellington Branch, or its affiliated bodies and committees or Indian Newslink. Readers can send their comments (names can be withheld) to

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