Immigration New Zealand (INZ) is set to start processing the second round of the one-off Resident Visa applications at the start of March.
After a stuttering phase one due to IT failures, Immigration New Zealand will aim to reduce the pressure on its online system during the second stage of processing residency visa applications.
The federal government announced a one-off Resident Visa last year for skilled individuals who met specific criteria such as being in the country for the past three years or more, earning at or above the median wage, or working in a role on New Zealand’s scarce list.
Immigration New Zealand started the first phase of processing Resident Visa applications from eligible applicants in December last year.
However, with a significantly large number of migrants applying for the visa, IT failures befell INZ, which resulted in a bottleneck of pending applications.
Moreover, lockdowns caused local INZ offices to close, which added even more applications to the pipeline and heightened the discontent among applicants.
INZ came under scrutiny from applicants and the immigration industry, with calls growing for an audit of the slow application processing times.
However, Immigration New Zealand recovered from the stuttering phase one and processed Resident Visa applications after a slow start.
Geoff Scott, assistant general manager of Immigration New Zealand, said phase one saw more than 13,000 residency applications submitted by eligible migrants, of which nearly 6,000 have already been approved.
He said that INZ is well through processing applications submitted during phase one, and the majority of the remaining applications are pending further information from applicants or third-party checks.
He also mentioned that Immigration New Zealand will limit the number of residency applicants submitting their applications at any one time to reduce pressure on the online system.
In addition to commencing the second phase from March, up to 10,500 eligible migrants will be able to submit their Resident Visa applications earlier, starting from February 21.
Early application privileges will be allowed for individuals who have already submitted an Expression of Interest (EOI), but their pathway was impacted by the pandemic causing disruptions to EOI selections.
INZ said that as many as 1,500 skilled migrants will be able to submit their residency applications each day starting from February 21, and prioritising this group of individuals will recognise their pathway to residency being impacted by policy decisions at the start of the pandemic.
INZ also said it had learnt from a staggered phase one of residency visa applications and that it will continue to work on improving the processing of upcoming applications.