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Thread: INZ visa processing during lockdown

  1. #11
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    Sorry to be the bearer of relatively bad news (for some), but INZ have today announced that, due to continued limited processing capacity going forward, they are going to prioritise the following visa types for processing:

    • Visa applications for Victims of Domestic Violence
    • Partnership category temporary visas (including reassessments)
    • Full Fee Paying student visas
    • Post Study work visas

    No other application types are going to be processed for now.

    The email also said this:
    "INZ is focusing on processing applications that are a priority and can be processed within the current operational constraints. We appreciate this will be disappointing news for some people whose visas we cannot process at this time, but we are continuing to review how we operate in this changing environment. We are hopeful we will be able to process more visa types in the near future.

    Due to Immigration New Zealand’s limited visa processing capacity, the assessment of these applications or requests may take longer than usual. Applications will generally be assessed in date order and will be allocated to an Immigration Officer as soon as it is practicable to do so.

    Applicants will only be contacted if further information is required or once a decision is made on their application. If additional information is required, no deadline will be set to provide this information as we appreciate it may be difficult to obtain documentation in current circumstances.

    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic there will be some changes to the way applications are processed. This may include:

    • No indicative timeframes for deciding applications
    • No face-to-face interviews or any other activities involving physical interaction
    • Some application types may be progressed quicker than others based on priority
    • Immigration Officers may be unable to progress applications where mandatory information cannot be obtained due to current circumstances"

  2. #12
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    The instructions in the Operational Manual at A16.1, which relates to the order of processing of applications, have been changed to give priority to applications in the following order:

    First priority will be given to applications for:
    * Visas for health workers and other essential workers related to the Covid-19 response
    * Visas for victims of domestic violence
    * Visas for those who have a critical purpose or humanitarian need to be in NZ

    Second priority will be given to applications for:
    * Full fee paying students
    * Partner of a NZer work or visitor visa
    * Partner of a worker work or visitor visa
    * Student and visitor visas for children of workers or students
    * Post-Study work visas

    Third priority will be given to applications for:
    * Essential Skills work visas
    * All other types of work visas
    * All other types of student visas
    * Variations of Conditions
    * Permanent Resident visas

    Fourth, and final, priority will be given to applications for:
    * All other temporary entry class visas
    * Transit visas
    * All other types of Resident visas (including SMC and Residence from Work)

    Very disappointing to see that SMC processing has been bumped to the absolute bottom of the list

  3. #13
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    May 2019
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    Hi Erin,
    I had a case officer working on my application Since June 2018. She requested some documents again which I sent and she acknowledged as received just a week before the Lockdown. Will they continue with the old applications or they will put these applications on hold as well? Thanks

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by EGoodhue View Post
    The instructions in the Operational Manual at A16.1, which relates to the order of processing of applications, have been changed to give priority to applications in the following order:

    First priority will be given to applications for:
    * Visas for health workers and other essential workers related to the Covid-19 response
    * Visas for victims of domestic violence
    * Visas for those who have a critical purpose or humanitarian need to be in NZ

    Second priority will be given to applications for:
    * Full fee paying students
    * Partner of a NZer work or visitor visa
    * Partner of a worker work or visitor visa
    * Student and visitor visas for children of workers or students
    * Post-Study work visas

    Third priority will be given to applications for:
    * Essential Skills work visas
    * All other types of work visas
    * All other types of student visas
    * Variations of Conditions
    * Permanent Resident visas

    Fourth, and final, priority will be given to applications for:
    * All other temporary entry class visas
    * Transit visas
    * All other types of Resident visas (including SMC and Residence from Work)

    Very disappointing to see that SMC processing has been bumped to the absolute bottom of the list
    Thanks for the excellent context Erin. I'm curious though, is this prioritisation solely regarding NEW applications or does it encompass ALL applications? In other words, for example if a RFW application is already with a CO but not yet approaved, will the CO now be obliged to deprioritise that and instead focus on any new visa applications that are higher up in the priority list (e.g. a new Student visa application?

  5. #15
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    Sep 2018
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    Hi Erin,

    My husband is holding RFW(LTSSL) visa now. Covid-19 has some impacts to his company so he is trying to find a new job (IT industry). Luckily, some companies are interested with him. But according to your update, to my understanding, it is impossible for him to get a VOC now, isn't it?

  6. #16
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    Aug 2019
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    Quote Originally Posted by EGoodhue View Post
    The instructions in the Operational Manual at A16.1, which relates to the order of processing of applications, have been changed to give priority to applications in the following order:

    First priority will be given to applications for:
    * Visas for health workers and other essential workers related to the Covid-19 response
    * Visas for victims of domestic violence
    * Visas for those who have a critical purpose or humanitarian need to be in NZ

    Second priority will be given to applications for:
    * Full fee paying students
    * Partner of a NZer work or visitor visa
    * Partner of a worker work or visitor visa
    * Student and visitor visas for children of workers or students
    * Post-Study work visas

    Third priority will be given to applications for:
    * Essential Skills work visas
    * All other types of work visas
    * All other types of student visas
    * Variations of Conditions
    * Permanent Resident visas

    Fourth, and final, priority will be given to applications for:
    * All other temporary entry class visas
    * Transit visas
    * All other types of Resident visas (including SMC and Residence from Work)

    Very disappointing to see that SMC processing has been bumped to the absolute bottom of the list
    From what I've read am I right in thinking that first priority is only for work visas and doesn't include residency visa applications even for those essential workers. I'm also presuming by essential they basically mean healthcare sector, other essential services are not deemed priority in this way. Was clutching at straws that working in telecommunications and being heavily involved in the government initiatives this is resulting in as part of my job right now may actually give me a reason to request some urgency but as I have a current visa I don't think they'll care given the situation.

  7. #17
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    Absolutely ridiculous that SMC has been pushed to the very bottom - you would think NZ would want to retain it's skilled staff many of whom have kept the country running during the lockdown. I guess this leaves me with no option but to find that kiwi husband now Who cares about my skills as long as I can provide some comfort to a real kiwi during these tough times!

  8. #18
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    Aug 2019
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    To elaborate on Erin's post I also saw another advisor post this on linkedin with full details of the new A16.1 for those interested:

    https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/inz-a...nnifer-bensley


    A16.1 General Instructions as to the order and manner of processing residence applications

    Pursuant to section 26(4) of the Immigration Act 2009 and acting under delegated authority from the Chief Executive of the Ministry of the Business, Innovation, and Employment, I hereby give the following general instructions as to the order of processing of visa applications under Government immigration instructions, effective from 16 April 2020:

    a. First priority will be given to the following applications for visas (and requests to vary conditions of an existing visa) in preference to applications or requests from other applicants:

    i. Visas (and variations of condition requests) for critical workers to support the Government response to COVID-19:

    o Work and visitor visas (and variations of conditions) for essential health workers (onshore and offshore)

    o Work visas (and variations of conditions requests) for designated workers in essential sectors (onshore)

    o Work visas (and variations of conditions) for designated essential workers (offshore)

    o Work visas (and variations of conditions) for workers in essential roles (onshore)

    ii. Visa applications (and requests to vary conditions of an existing visa) where there is an urgent humanitarian need:

    o Visa applications for victims of domestic violence

    o Visitor visas (and variations of conditions) for the following exceptions to the restriction on entry permission: humanitarian cases; Tongan and Samoan citizens making essential travel; immediate family of New Zealand citizens and residents travelling with their New Zealand citizen or resident family member; immediate family of temporary visa holders who normally live in New Zealand;

    o Residence class visas for Australian citizens and permanent residents who normally live in NZ.

    iii. Applications to travel under the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) travel card programme made by people who are not New Zealand citizens or residence class visa holders.

    b. Second priority will be given to visa applications (and requests to vary conditions of an existing visa) from applicants whose ability to meet the requirements to be granted a visa is unlikely to have been affected by the measures in place to prevent the transmission of COVID-19:

    i. Student visa for full fee paying students

    ii. Work and visitor visas based on partnership to a New Zealand citizen or resident

    iii. Work and visitor visas on partnership to a work or student visa holder

    iv. Student and visitor visas for the dependent children of work or student visa holders

    v. Visitor visas for the dependent children of New Zealand citizens or residents

    vi. Work visas under Post-Study work instructions

    vii. Diplomatic visa

    viii. Military visas

    c. Third priority will be given to the following types and categories of applications for visas:

    i. Essential skills work visas for workers not designated as essential or working in an essential sector or essential role

    ii. All other work visas (onshore)

    iii. All other student visas (onshore)

    iv. All other variation of conditions requests (onshore and offshore)

    v. Work visa applications for asylum seekers

    vi. Permanent resident visas

    vii. Second or subsequent resident visas

    d. Fourth priority will be given to the following types and categories of applications for visas and electronic travel authority:

    i. All other temporary entry class visas

    ii. All transit visas

    iii. All other residence class visas

    iv. New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA) requests

    e. Within the priorities set out above, applications should generally be processed in lodgement date order.

    f. These instructions do not prevent immigration officers according urgency to the processing of any particular residence class visa application when the individual circumstances so warrant that.

    g. The previous General Instructions made pursuant to section 26(4) of the Immigration Act 2009 are revoked.
    So pretty much:

    Essential workers work visas
    Visas covid shouldn't have impacted applications on - mostly Partnership visas
    Non essential work visas
    Residents & visitors

    How they break down category 4 will be anyone's guess, will they continue with their priority criteria or go in chronological order, we'll have to wait and see. It's going to be a very interesting investigation for the ombudsman as A16.1 has now changed the day their investigation has commenced omitting the offending articles we have all complained to them about.

  9. #19
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    omitting the offending articles we have all complained to them about.
    That can't alter the fact of what was in operation at the time you applied, so the basis of your complaints is still solid.

  10. #20
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    Looking at the new A16.1, I understand where INZ is coming from, and I believe that the new processing criteria are fair given the COVID-19 situation.

    I seriously doubt that anyone can find a valid argument against the P1 items: the response to COVID-19 has to be utmost priority, and if that means prioritising temporary visas for those deemed essential, then so be it.

    P2 is quite obviously INZ picking low-hanging fruit and getting them out of the way.

    P3, as I've mentioned before, is important to get the economy back on track. There's going to be a lot of Work Visa holders needing variations of conditions or new Work Visas, and those should be processed with greater urgency than prior to COVID-19: the sooner those people are granted variations of conditions or new Work Visas, the sooner they can be contributing to rebuilding the economy. I'm somewhat surprised to see Permanent Resident Visas in there as well, but most of those applications are fairly straightforward.

    Everything else (the P4 items) are generally either offshore applications (who won't get into the country anyway) or time-consuming applications (Resident Visas), and I agree with deprioritising those. Right now, it's more important to deal with essential personnel and making sure that Work Visa holders can work again, than anything else. I still feel that any and all offshore applications not in P1-P3 should actually be lapsed, but that's a whole different argument.

    Of course, these new processing criteria are entirely unsuitable for after COVID-19, but while the pandemic is occurring, this is an appropriate response from INZ.

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