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Thread: Processing of SMC applications

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
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    New Zealand
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    Cool Processing of SMC applications

    I just wanted to impart a few important details about the process that an SMC application goes through with INZ, as a lot of people on this forum have questions about what happens to their application once it goes to INZ and there's not a lot of practical information online about it.

    Lodgement – when you send your application and supporting documents to INZ, it goes to a team in the Northern Area Documentation Office who check over all the documents you’ve submitted and decide whether the mandatory lodgement requirements are met. Mandatory lodgement requirements are considered to be a signed application form, payment details, birth certificates, passport photos, medicals, police certificates.
    If all these documents are present, your application will be lodged and payment deducted. A physical file of your application is created, containing all your documents, your medicals are referred to the Medical Assessor if need be, a New Zealand police certificate is applied for on your behalf and a National Security Check is initiated if applicable to your citizenship. The physical file is then sent to the SMC Processing Teams in Manukau, to be put in what is called a Managed Queue, a huge filing cabinet of SMC applications with the most recently lodged applications added to the end of the cabinet.
    If your application is missing any of the above documents, your application will be returned to you, with a letter explaining that you must provide all mandatory documents before INZ will accept your application.
    The lodgement process is supposed to take no more than 3 working days from the time INZ receive your application, as per Standard Operating Procedure.

    Allocation and Assessment – Every Immigration Officer in the SMC Processing Teams in Manukau has between 40 and 60 SMC applications assigned to their name at one time (40 for newer staff members but up to 60 for more senior staff members). When an application is allocated to an Immigration Officer, they are responsible for checking all the details and documents on the physical file against SMC immigration instructions and deciding whether the applicable instructions are met or not, and the claim for points that the applicant has made meets instructions & the client can be awarded 160+ points. An Immigration Officer is obliged to do this as quickly and efficiently as possible, while balancing the constraints of a robust assessment and third-party checks that need to be carried out. When an Immigration Officer creates space in their caseload of 40-60 applications due to finalising 1 or more applications, they are allocated new applications from the Managed Queue to “top up” their caseload to the 40-60 they are required to have at one time. New physical files are given to an Immigration Officer and they undertake an Initial Assessment.

    An Initial Assessment involves checking over every single page contained in a physical application file, looking for any errors or missing information and deciding what verification needs to be undertaken. The Immigration Officer looks for any details where an applicant may have claimed points but does not actually meet immigration instructions and may ask an applicant to provide more information to help them make their assessment. This Initial Assessment is supposed to happen within 5 working days of the application being assigned to them.

    An Immigration Officer should send you an email to let you know they have been assigned your application and will ask for any extra information they need from you in that email. Or, if they don’t need anything else from you, they will advise you of this in the email and you don’t need to do anything further.
    The Immigration Officer should give you a deadline by which it should be provided to them – there are standardised timeframe guidelines for all possible information and evidence that could ever be asked for by an Immigration Officer, ranging from 3 working days for simple details (such as a missing document or details in the application form) up to 10 working days for documents that might take longer to get (such as those from offshore or further medical tests from a specialist that you need to make an appointment with). Make sure you provide what the Immigration Officer is asking for as soon as you can, and once you have provided it, let them know that is all you are going to provide as sometimes an Immigration Officer will wait until the deadline has passed before taking any further action on your application just in case you are going to provide something else but haven’t made it clear to them that more is coming. Telling the Immigration Officer that you have provided all you are going to helps them to know that what they have is all that is coming to help them move on with their assessment. If you can’t make the deadline that the Immigration Officer has set, ask them for an extension – they are usually always granted. The longest it should take for an Immigration Officer to have everything they need to make a final assessment of an application (notwithstanding requests for extensions or delays with third parties) is 10 working days.

    Verification – The majority of claims for skilled employment are verified by an Immigration Officer, usually via an email to your employer, but sometimes a phone call to you or your employer. What the Immigration Officer is trying to find out via these emails or phone calls is that your job substantially matches the ANZSCO description you have claimed for your employment and that you have the relevant work experience or qualification to do that job. Questions will usually focus on what you do in your job on a day-to-day basis and why your employer chose to offer the job to you (based on your previous work experience or qualification). An Immigration Officer will usually ask for the answers to a questionnaire sent via email to be returned by your employer within 5 working days. If they don’t receive the reply email within 5 working days, they are meant to follow-up with your employer within 24 hours of the deadline passing, and not just wait for the employer to reply when they choose to. When an Immigration Officer receives the reply from your employer (or talks to you or your employer on the phone), they are required to take the next action on your application within 3 working days.

    The next action will either be writing you a PPI letter (if they don’t think your employment, or some other aspect of your application, meets immigration instructions) or making their final assessment. Sometimes they need to ask your employer even more questions, if there is something they are unclear of.

    PPI or Final Assessment – If you receive a PPI letter, you will be given 10 working days to provide a response. Try to provide as much evidence as you can to back-up your response to the Immigration Officer’s concerns (or perhaps contact a licensed immigration adviser to assistance, as responding to PPI letters can be tricky).
    For their final assessment, an Immigration Officer will do another check of every page of the application and documents submitted, much like they did for the Initial Assessment but this time there will be even more information for them to check including the details they obtained during their verification checks. They will check if there are any health or character issues that need to be addressed (based on information in your medicals and police certificates, including the NZ Police Certificate the lodgement team requested on your behalf) and check that you are eligible for 160+ points based on what you have provided with your application and what they have checked during verification, as well as what you have provided in response to a PPI letter if one was sent. They will then write up a case summary, which is a report covering all the points you have claimed, verification they have undertaken and details about whether you do or do not meet the immigration instructions that are applicable to your case. This report can be several pages long but should not take an Immigration Officer more than 2 working days to write up.

    Second Person Check – Once the Immigration has written up their case summary and recommended a decision on the database, the application goes forward to a Technical Adviser for a Second Person Check. This check is to ensure that an Immigration Officer has not failed to check any part of the application and that their rationale for the recommended decision (approve or decline) is robust and in line with instructions. If the Technical Adviser identifies a part of the application that the Immigration Officer has failed to check or there are flaws in their rationale, they will return the application to the Immigration Officer for remedial work. An Immigration Officer should make this remedial work their priority (absolutely must be actioned within 3 working days of the file being returned, as per Standard Operating Procedure) and return the updated file to the Technical Adviser as soon as possible (ideally within a week). The decision to approve or decline an application lies only with the Immigration Officer and a Technical Adviser can not request that an Immigration Officer change their decision – but the application must have been checked fully and the rationale must be full and robust. A Second Person Check takes around 30 minutes to complete for an approved application and around 1 hour for a declined application.

    Final decision – Once an approved application has been through the Second Person Check, the file goes to the Support Team who will issue the Approval letter and e-Visa and send it out. A declined application goes back to the Immigration Officer, who will write the Decline letter and send it out.

  2. #2
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    As you can see, all of the above should take approximately 6-7 weeks at the most for the majority of applications. An application should only take longer if there are delays in receiving third party check results back (Medical Assessor, New Zealand Police or National Security Check are slow for some reason) or a complex verification is required which may take longer than the standard 5 working days to complete. Backlogs in the 2PC process recently have also added 3-4 weeks to processing timeframes. But as long as an Immigration Officer is not waiting for an employer or applicant to provide them with something or results from the Medical Assessor, NZ Police or National Security Check, they should be actively working on the application and moving it towards making their final assessment, proactively gathering all the information they need to make the final check. There is no excuse for an Immigration Officer to have an application lay idle for more than 10 working days if they are not waiting for another party to give them something for the application. Immigration Officers are assessed by their managers on how well they efficiently moved applications in their caseload through the end-to-end process and how many applications they finalised (approved or declined) at the end of each financial year (30 June). If your application is taking longer than what is outlined above to be processed, take it up with your Immigration Officer or ask a licensed immigration adviser for some help.

  3. #3
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    Aug 2018
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    New Zealand
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    Thank you so much for the detailed information EGoodhue, what would we do without you! xx

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by charcharbinks View Post
    Thank you so much for the detailed information EGoodhue, what would we do without you! xx
    You're welcome :-) The idea behind this post is that I won't be active on here for a few months with the upcoming birth of my new baby, so just wanted to leave some important knowledge behind in my absence. Knowledge is power

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    Auckland
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    Hi EGoodhue ,


    Thank you for such valuable information. If we have lived in multiple countries and provided police clearance certificates for all already . Will there be a delay for verification with other countries we have lived or they go by the police clearance provided. My case the PCC date was last Oct which has crossed 6 months.

    Thank you

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Location
    Auckland
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    Hi EGoodhue

    Thank you for sharing your valuable knowledge about the prepossessing of the SMC applications.
    Appreciate if you could please let us know if the Standard Operating Procedure is available publicly?
    Also, if in case, an application takes more than usual time how an applicant escalate the case?

    Thanks

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    Singapore
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    @EGoodhue,
    Thank you for sharing detailed INZ process, Its very helpful for all new members in this group like me.
    Advanced welcome to Little EGoodhue...

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
    New Zealand
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    Thank you Erin.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Location
    New Zealand
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    Hi Erin thanks for all these valuable information.

    I have a question, our medicals would expire probably even before a CO can be assigned. My English exam has expired. Will they ask for new medical certificates and IELTS certificates?

    I have heard from a friend last year that she was asked for a new medical certificate before her visa was extended while their SMC application was being processed. The thing is the medical didn’t even reach 3 years yet, but she was asked to provide a new one before the work visa was issued. She also had not left NZ within the last three years and her health had not deteriorated. Is this standard practice?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Location
    new zealand
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    Quote Originally Posted by allune View Post
    Hi Erin thanks for all these valuable information.

    I have a question, our medicals would expire probably even before a CO can be assigned. My English exam has expired. Will they ask for new medical certificates and IELTS certificates?

    I have heard from a friend last year that she was asked for a new medical certificate before her visa was extended while their SMC application was being processed. The thing is the medical didn’t even reach 3 years yet, but she was asked to provide a new one before the work visa was issued. She also had not left NZ within the last three years and her health had not deteriorated. Is this standard practice?
    Thanks a lot for Erin to share all the details.

    Also,hi Allune, we are on the same boat here, my IELTS will expire this November, but I just got lodged at early of May.
    Don't know if need to take another test, hopefully can be allocated an officer before that.

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