Major bureaucratic flaws in New Zealand’s immigration system

Leading Auckland immigration lawyer Aaron Martin knows from extensive experience with clients exactly where the frustrations and incompetencies of the current process lie. He has some suggestions for the new Government about where its focus should be when it comes to immigration.

The Labour Party election campaign focused on positive messages. So I eagerly looked forward to an equally positive message from the new Minister of Immigration. But in an article on the Newsroom website on 1 December the Minister started on a negative: the immigration system was broken and required more money to catch those who try to shaft it.

The Minister and the department’s time and money would be better spent looking at some of the major bureaucratic flaws in our current system.

For example, does the Minister realise that it takes six months for an applicant’s National Security Check to be sent to Immigration New Zealand? Imagine the frustration of applicants (and staff): the application is completed, and ready for approval, but everyone has to then wait for six months until the National Security Check is received.

Or perhaps some money could be devoted to resolving the ludicrous situation in regard to medical referrals. At the moment, if a person applies for both a work visa and a residence visa and their medical check shows a health condition, they must submit two separate referrals to the health assessment team – one for each application.

Most people would think that both of those referrals could go to the assessment team at the same time. Oh, no. It’s one at a time, please.

Why can’t the medical assessors look at both at the same time?

The process of sending medical information to be reviewed by a medical assessor and getting the result back takes about four weeks. If the “result” is a request for further medical tests, it can then take another couple of weeks to get those reviewed. I usually advise clients to brace themselves for eight weeks for the whole process.

An applicant can ask for the process to be fast-tracked but the answer is always the same: “It’s a process that involves a third-party supplier and once it goes to that supplier Immigration New Zealand has no control over timeframes.”

Maybe the Minister could remind the third-party supplier who pays the bill?

And perhaps the service-level agreements need to be reviewed?

Structural improvements that speed up decision-making timeframes would be of significant benefit to both visa applicants and employers. The service needs major improvement. Fixing service problems might also increase the job satisfaction of the dedicated team who work in border control.

So, Minister, how about using money for something “relentlessly positive” for the law-abiding people while you are at it, instead of just focusing on the crooks?

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