New Zealand considering visa centre closures

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has proposed changes that will see visa processing streamlined to fewer centres, with 12 offshore locations either closing or ceasing visa application activity.

INZ Manager of Visa Services, Steve Stuart, said investment in technology and the popularity of online applications - with around half of eligible applications now made online - had created a new approach for more accurate, timely and consistent decision making.


"We are proposing that over the next three years, our offshore presence would reduce from 17 locations to five. There will be processing centres in Beijing [China] and Mumbai [India], with our three offices in the Pacific also remaining," he said.


"We will have greater presence in New Zealand with more jobs and processing moved out of Central and West Auckland into Manukau and the regions - Hamilton, Palmerston North, Porirua and Christchurch."


Under the proposals eight overseas offices will close altogether: Ho Chi Minh (Vietnam); Hong Kong; Jakarta (Indonesia); Bangkok (Thailand); Moscow (Russia); New Delhi (India); Pretoria (South Africa); and Shanghai (China).


Processing will also cease in Manila (the Philippines), Washington DC (USA), London (UK) and Dubai (UAE), although a presence will be retained to gather market intelligence, carry out risk verification activities and maintain relationships with key partner countries, INZ said.


INZ launched an 'apply on behalf' service in 2015, allowing agents to lodge online visa applications for their students.


Education New Zealand Chief Executive, Grant McPherson, said, "We will be providing feedback on the proposed changes and working closely with INZ as decisions are made."


INZ is currently consulting staff and stakeholders in the proposals and a decision is expected by the end of the year.



By Matthew Knott

News Editor