Immigration New Zealand prepares for high-end technology

Immigration New Zealand prepares for high-end technology

Last year, more than 4500 passengers were prevented entry

Venkat Raman

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) is hoping to improve its border control responsibility and facilitate the travel of ‘genuine passengers’ with ‘Electronic Travel Authority’ (ETA) expected to go online this year.

National Manager (Border Operations) Stephanie Greathead said that the new technology will allow INZ to assess and update more information about ‘Visa Waiver’ travellers coming to New Zealand by air and sea.

“The new ETA technology and processes will mean more efficient and accurate identification of passengers of interest. The ETA security and facilitation measures will better assist INZ to manage risk and facilitate the legitimate passenger,” he said in the ‘Year at the Border (2017-2018) Report’ released over the weekend.

Formidable Challenges

Mr Greathead said that the ongoing challenge is to strike a more effective balance in managing the increasing demand on New Zealand’s border protection services, while ensuring that bona fide travellers enjoy their stay in New Zealand.

The Report said that crossing a modern border envisaged more than just a simple act of presenting a passport and stepping across a line on the ground.

Crossing New Zealand’s border is a process that begins before a traveller arrives at the airport at their point of origin. New Zealand’s border is more than its vast coastline of 14,000 kms or a fabled line at each of its international airports, it said.

“The New Zealand Government has implemented processes, networks and technology that mean the border extends globally to every passenger’s point of origin before they travel.”

Growing numbers

Mr Greathead said that during the 2017-2018 financial year, INZ managed the entry of more than 6.8 million travellers into New Zealand.

“INZ has seen a steady increase in the number of people travelling to and from New Zealand, both by air and by sea. The increasing volume means that we have had to enhance our ability to understand and prevent the risks this may present, while ensuring that genuine travellers still have as close to a seamless border experience as possible,” he said.

Passengers of Interest

According to him, between July 2017 and June 2018, INZ made 4579 decisions to either prevent a passenger from boarding their flight to New Zealand or to refuse an arriving traveller entry to New Zealand.

“Future advances in screening technology will mean that we are able to more easily identify and interact with passengers of interest. Looking to the future and in keeping with our M5 partners (Australia, United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada and New Zealand constitute the ‘Migration Five or M5 Forum’), the announcement that ETA will go live in 2019 will mean that we will have more information about travellers from visa-waiver countries,” Mr Greathead said.

Enormous background work

Visa applicants and a majority of travellers from the 61 countries and jurisdictions with which New Zealand has visa waiver agreements are unaware of the work that is being done behind the scenes by INZ (and other border agencies) as they apply for their visa, check in for their flight, travel to and arrive in New Zealand.

“INZ increasingly interacts with passengers either through the visa application process or from the time a passenger checks in at the overseas port. The visa application process is often the first point of interaction for passengers coming to New Zealand,” Mr Greathead said.

Our border is protected by INZ, New Zealand Customs Service, Ministry for Primary Industries, Maritime New Zealand, Aviation Security Service, New Zealand Police and New Zealand Security Intelligence Service.

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