New Zealand turning its visa process into Online, closing offshore centers

After several announcements in past year, the New Zealand government finally has set a clear course towards a much more centralized processing model for visas.  It is applied for student visas also. The new move will extensively depend on online and telephone access to visa applications and other services.

The government had begun closing its public service officers for visa process throughout the New Zealand late last year. That time at least 4 offices were shut down and even the process of winding up is still going on.  Office in Wellington was closed on 17 November. The news came to light that the remaining offices will also be shut down by June 2018.

“Apply online if possible using our Online Services, or send your completed application by post or courier to the address provided for your application type on our Office and Fees Finder,” says an accompanying statement from Immigration New Zealand. “If you are in the Wellington area and require any assistance with your current or upcoming immigration application, call the Immigration Contact Centre.”

Offshore offices will also close

At the same time, Immigration New Zealand has announced that most of the overseas visa processing offices will be closed in coming two years. In that period, 12 out of 17 current offshore processing offices will be closed.

Under this move, offices in Ho Chi Minh, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Moscow, New Delhi, and Shanghai will be closed. Visa processing will also be ceased in five other offices– Bangkok, Manila, Washington DC, Pretoria, and Dubai. The department has observed that these offices can be used to manage some non-processing operations in order to gather market intelligence, manage risk and carry out verification activities.

NZ has also made a plan to shut-off London office; however, it may use for some non-processing operations. The final decision will be taken by end of the year. The continuation of closure offices doesn’t stop here because the other 11 offices will also be closed between March 2018 and June 2019.

The two sizeable processing centers will function in two major Asian locations which include Beijing and Mumbai. Beijing will be responsible for Chinese visitor and students visas and Mumbai will function for applicants from all over the world.

Moreover, three additions offshore process centers in Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa will remain open for the time being in order to provide additional service delivery stability as INZ works through this significant period of change.

According to NZ government, visa processing will extensively be focused in five processing centers in New Zealand which will be located in Manukau, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Porirua, and Christchurch.

For making these offices stable NZ is planning to hire more staff with New Zealand so that they can manage increased volume of application files from overseas.

Officials from INZ have told that the reductions in overseas will not lead to a reduction in services. “I’m confident that we will now have the right operating model in place to meet our ongoing commitment for world-class service delivery and customer excellence in a digital world. There will be greater transparency and certainty for our customers and it will be easier for them to apply for a visa through simpler processes and instructions” Said Steve Stuart, INZ head of visa services.

He further said INZ will continue to use Visa Application Centers to offer in-person service in markets across the world. “Even for customers who don’t apply online, there is no need for visa applicants to physically go into an INZ office to lodge their applications. VACs have been operating effectively all over the world for more than five years and provide services on behalf of INZ, including receiving applications.”

Currently, there are 39 Visa Applications Centers serving people on behalf of INZ including Locations in, Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan Russia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, Australia, Indonesia, Japan.