Mail track

IT problems resurface as 100,000 migrants eligible for accelerated residency

An estimated 100,000 migrants can apply for fast-track residency from today – although IT problems have prevented some from doing so.

Immigration New Zealand has upgraded its systems in the hope of avoiding a repeat of the failures that hampered the opening of the first phase of the single residency visa in December.

He also tried to dissuade migrants from applying on the first day, saying he would start processing applications at the end of the month and in the order that applicants’ temporary visas expire.

But when phase two of the apps launched at 10 a.m. today, users received a message that there were technical issues and a separate error message appeared once users accessed to the online portal.

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) said the system was not down, but its website had received high demand. “The improved online immigration system (through which people apply) has worked and people can apply. The INZ website is also now working as expected.”

Immigration adviser Steve Norrie said migrants had received repeated assurances that the immigration systems would cope and it was hard to believe he had failed again.

“They’ve greatly simplified and streamlined this app to try to help them manage the volume [of visa applications]. But the online platform is the thing that it all starts from and that doesn’t work. This gives you no confidence as to what is going on behind the scenes in terms of planning the other aspects of the visa category.

“You have people I don’t doubt who have taken the day off to be able to file these applications. They have been mowed down by this pillar government in office around immigration residency changes for the last two and a half months , three years, and finally they have a safe haven they can go to.

“And now they’re taking the day off, they’re getting ready to apply and Immigration New Zealand hasn’t been able to predict the ability of applicants yet.”

INZ said that as of 1 p.m. today, more than 4,000 people had successfully applied for the resident visa on the new platform, and another 6,000 were still actively working in the system to complete their applications.

“When we launched this morning at 10 a.m. there was a significant increase in traffic to our website and that was way more than we had ever seen before,” said the 2021 Residency Visa Managing Director. , Geoff Scott.

“We only had to do a little work to bring the system back into balance. And that was fixed in a very short time and since the system is working as expected and we’re really pleased with how it’s working .”

The number of December applications was a tenth of what would be received in the second phase from today, and that knocked the INZ system upside down for two days, he said.

INZ has allowed some people to apply a week early this time to try and make up for the expected rush.

He said last week that he had learned a lot from the experiences of opening the first phase in December.

“Immigration Online has been significantly enhanced to increase the number of people who can apply each day,” INZ chief digital and program officer Darren Calder said last week.

“In addition to this, we have also made operational changes which mean that people who do not apply on day one will not be disadvantaged. Submitting your application first does not determine when it will be processed, so we encourage people to take the time to apply.”

Migrants wanted to prepare new medical certificates for when they applied, which had caused weeks of queues at medical centers.

“We know some people are concerned about getting their medical certificate in time to submit their application,” he said.

“As a result, individuals applying through Enhanced Immigration Online will not need a medical certificate in order to submit their application. If a medical certificate is required, they will be asked to provide it and any other documentation when “We will begin to process their application. This will help alleviate the demand that the doctors on the immigration committee have experienced in recent weeks.”

More than 30,000 people have applied for the single stay visa since December, and half of them have already become residents.

The government has estimated that up to 165,000 people could become residents in total, including critical workers who arrived before July and foreign families of migrant workers already here.

Visa queues

Rajiv Kumar and his wife, Jyoti Fermah
Photo: Supplied/Rajiv Kumar

People still waiting for old applications to be considered in the Skilled Migrant (SMC) and Home Work (RFW) categories say long residency delays have worsened as staff have moved onto the new visa of residence. While some of them will be able to apply for the single visa, 9,495 people still have old applications and some of them have no other residency options they can pursue.

Rajiv Kumar arrived in 2014 to study commerce and he applied for residency as a skilled migrant more than two years ago. The processing time nearly doubled from 16 to 31 months during that time, he said.

The restaurant manager traveled to India to marry his wife Jyoti Fermah just before the border closed. They were eventually allowed to return, but the delay meant he had not spent the last three years in New Zealand to qualify for the single residency visa.

“Immigration gives more priority to new resident applications,” he said. “Over sixty employees, those who worked on SMC/RFW cases, have been reduced to a team of just 10. Every time I ask customer service or email immigration about the movement of the queue Waiting, they have no information when immigration officials will work on paper residency records.

“Like me, there are also other applicants who are not eligible for the new resident visa and who have to stay in the old queue without any hope. This is a really difficult time for me and for the others too, those who wait for a result of more than two years.”

Geoff Scott said handling claims is always a balancing act to ensure people get the service they deserve.

“We have a number of people who had migrant and residency skills from applications to work with us, who have opted out because they were able to get their 2021 residency visas approved,” Scott said.

“So the numbers are coming down reasonably well with what’s left. And we have a team that’s working on those residuals to get them through as quickly as possible. So we’re focused on keeping a very balanced approach to that in order to that those people waiting for these particular visas, have them processed.

“What we don’t want to do is jeopardize their situation by not working through those. So like I said, we try to balance commitments and it’s always an exercise of balance, but we are doing our best to ensure that these people, especially those who have not applied in this new category, get the service they deserve.”

Migrants ask for a delay

Migrants wanted an idea of ​​how long they would have to wait, he added.

Migrants who were not eligible for the single residence visa are also unhappy. Post-study work visa holders who were abroad when the border was closed are among those calling on the government to reconsider their fate.

“We were all kicked out of New Zealand after the government made the decision to close the gates on March 20, 2020,” said Jagdeep Singh Dhillon.

“We recognized times were tough, so we’ve waited patiently for over 16 months. Almost all of us work and live there, and are as much New Zealand residents as anyone else there. To date, the government has not shared any plan for people like us who are stuck abroad on a temporary work visa such as a post-study work visa, student visa, essential visa, a partner visa, a low to medium skills visa.

“We have wasted about two years of our lives and cannot get that precious time back. So it is our humble request to the New Zealand government, please bring us back as soon as possible with an extension of expired visas and consider us for this new Single Resident Visa category 2021.”

Most visas had expired and while Australia allowed a visa extension or replacement visa, New Zealand did not. “Our future and our life are totally destroyed. It’s not fair, it’s against humanity.”

Kris Faafoi

Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi
Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

The government appeared to close the door on this possibility late last year, when Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi told RNZ he had no plans to extend post-work visas. studies for people abroad.

“This is in line with the approach we have taken with other temporary visas where plans have been disrupted by Covid-19 as these people never intended to stay temporarily in New Zealand and the circumstances may have changed by the time the borders reopen,” he said. noted.

“People who have gained valuable qualifications through study in New Zealand and who have gained valuable work experience abroad can apply for work visas when borders reopen if they have the skills New Zealand needs. Zeeland needs.”