Stuck in a visa queue?

The Residence programme ended on 31/12/2019. This programme set by the government determines how many people can be approved for residence from time to time. The government has not decided the new programme meant to start on 1 January 2020. That has left Immigration NZ with no choice but to run with the old programme until they get told otherwise.

In the Skilled/Business stream there are between 25,500 and 30,600 places available for people to be granted residence over an 18 month period. This number includes family (partners and children) included in the application. Right now, there are around 16,800 Skilled/Talent applications waiting in the queue to be processed. These applications represent approximately 37,000 people. It is easy to see that with a cap on approvals of 30,600 at the top end and 37,000 already in queue (not counting those already approved since 1 January) there are more people applying than places available.

Priority is given to applicants who earn $51 per hour or $106,080 per annum OR require occupational registration by law to carry out their job (nurses, electricians, doctors, vets etc). About 90% of applications being processed right now are priority cases and take around 2 to 4 months from lodgement to be allocated to an Immigration Officer for assessment.

The oldest non priority skilled residence application waiting to be allocated was lodged in December 2018. These are slowly being allocated to Immigration Officers for processing but do not expect them to move quickly.

There are approximately 3,000 Expressions of Interest (EOI) already in the pool with more submitted every week. That is around 6,600 people waiting to be selected at the time of going to print.

This will be frustrating news for many people, but it will not get any better until the government decides on the next Residence Programme and reopens the selection of EOIs. Immigration NZ cannot do anything to speed the process along until they are directed by government. Do not expect anything to happen this side of the election in September.

There are around 6,800 Essential Skills Work Visa applications in the processing queue. Only 50% are properly documented and ready to be assessed. If the application is well presented it should be on an Immigration Officer’s desk within 9 to 12 days. If poorly presented or missing documents, it is making very slow progress through the system. This highlights why using a professional to get it right is so important.

Anyone overseas who has applied for a Visitor, Student or Work Visa should not expect their applications will move forward anytime soon. Take advice as to whether a border exemption may apply.

People overseas who have applied for residence or visas based on partnership with a New Zealander can expect some more news in the coming weeks. For now, most visa applications are not being processed when the applicant is offshore.

Keep in touch with Malcolm Pacific Immigration for the latest on processing updates.

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