New Zealand’s Immigration Department has blamed recent lockdowns due to the Covid-19 pandemic for a stalled visa residence queue as fears of a slower immigration process grow among applicants.
Addressing a lengthy backlog of residence visa applications, Immigration New Zealand said that the recent lockdowns in Auckland are to blame for stalled processing of residence visa applications, with the oldest applications dating back to July 2019.
Migration applicants to New Zealand tracking the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) queue have said that the applications treated as ‘non-priority’ have only moved one day in four weeks.
However, Immigration New Zealand stated that it was making steady progress in processing non-priority skilled migration applications, which include skilled migrants with an annual income of less than $106,080 or whose jobs do not need occupational registration.
According to Immigration New Zealand, it regularly allocates non-priority applications for Skilled Migrant Category residence visas to New Zealand.
Moreover, Immigration New Zealand also claimed it was on track to meeting its target of sanctioning between 50,000 and 60,000 residence applications in the 18 months to June.
However, two recent lockdowns imposed in Auckland to combat the spread of the coronavirus disrupted normal business operations at Immigration New Zealand’s office situated in Manukau, where Skilled Migrant Category residence visa applications are processed.
Although case officers at Manukau were able to work from home during the lockdowns, it severely limited their capacity to process pending applications, as paper-based applications could not be taken out of the office premises, Immigration New Zealand explained.
Priority immigration applications to New Zealand were being allocated a case officer within two weeks of an application being submitted, but no information was given on how far the non-priority application queue had progressed in the last month.
In 2021, a total of 1,304 NZ immigration applications have been allocated for processing, with 11,785 onshore applications still pending being allocated a case officer.