Visa applications mount as INZ closes Beijing office

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“However, there is no ‘deliberate attempt’ to slow down visas in India”

Venkat Raman
Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has allayed fears that visitor visa applications lodged in India are being ‘deliberately delayed’ because of the increase in the incidence of COVID-19 in many countries including India and New Zealand.

The fears were fanned by cancellation of flights by several airlines in the past few days and delays in appointing officers to consider applications.

“There is no attempt to delay any visa application in India,” an INZ official told Indian Newslink.

“However, there could be genuine and natural delays caused by the closure of the Beijing office as well as increasing number of applications for temporary visas. Processing visa applications of all types, especially those relating to temporary permits speedily continues to be a priority. We have 50 dedicated INZ staff to process student and temporary work permit visas,” the official said.

Impact of Beijing office closure

INZ Associate Deputy Chief Executive Catriona Robinson said that Beijing office, which was closed on January 24, 2020 following the threats posed by COVID-19, processes 10,000 visa applications every week and is responsible for processing around 50 per cent of all temporary applications decided by INZ annually.

“The closure of the Beijing office means that a reduction of 130 immigration officers to process visas.  Applications that would normally be processed by Beijing continue to come in daily and INZ has already transferred around 12,000 to other offices,” she said.

Ms Robinson said that there are about 13,400 applications on hand in Beijing,  6200 of which relate to individuals in China who are unable to travel to New Zealand due to travel restrictions. 

INZ is focused on distributing the remaining applications to other processing offices as appropriate as soon as possible, she said.

Student and Visitor Visas on track

“We have considered many options for managing the impact of the Beijing office closure on visa processing. However, it is likely that processing times for visitor, student and work visa applications will increase in the coming weeks due to the drop in immigration officers available to process visas. The aim is to ensure that student and visitor visa applications continue to be decided within normal timeframes,” Ms Robinson said.

Applications that are not properly completed or not accompanied by the required documentation, will attract further verification, lengthening the decision-making process.

Essential Skills delayed

“As a result of the reallocation of immigration officers, we expect that there will be longer wait times for decisions on Essential Skills applications (one of our temporary work visas), particularly as we enter the upcoming peak. Presently the wait times for allocation of Essential Skills visa applications to an immigration officer is ten days. Early modelling suggests this may increase by up to six weeks if no other factors change in the intervening time.  However, we will continue to assess these applications as quickly as possible,” Ms Robinson said.

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