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INZ increases scrutiny across all visa categories — December 2023

12 December 2023

As the year comes to a close, INZ (Immigration New Zealand) has made a sharp turn in their assessment style across all visa categories - accreditations, job checks, AEWVs, Visitor Visa, student visas, and residencies. 

Some of these checks (for certain roles and industries) are over-the-top and not warranted.

Media Reports

However, this is not unexpected, as there were several media articles from October pointing to this changing trend. Here are some snippets from

"A big increase in asylum claims, particularly from India, Malaysia and China, is another sign our under-fire immigration system being exploited, say Immigration New Zealand (INZ) staff."

"There’s been a 400% increase in claims by Indian nationals, 300% from Chinese nationals and nearly 700% from Malaysian nationals."

"And National’s immigration spokeswoman, Erica Stanford, says the figures show an urgent need for INZ to increase scrutiny on visitor visa applications."

"Multiple INZ officers who spoke to Stuff on condition of anonymity believed the increase didn’t represent a rise in genuine claims, but in New Zealand’s system being seen as a “soft touch”, after directives to speed up visa processing and spend less time examining applications."

"[Erica] Stanford said she’d warned the Labour government last December after a leaked document showed INZ staff had been instructed to take a lighter touch when assessing visitor applications, after three times the expected number of visa applications were made after the borders re-opened."

Impacted categories

The greatest impact of this pivot in INZ’s assessment has been on the following groups of people:

  • those that were approved 6-month multiple entry Visitor visas now looking to study or work (bona fide concerns)
  • Those who came on recovery visa and are looking to study (bona fide concerns) 
  • Job Checks for certain roles
  • Accreditation applications for certain business categories or industries 
  • AEWVs where registration is mandatory, where offshore work experience is hard to verify for credibility

Current verification activities include interviews with applicants and employers, increased requests for bank statements, proof of settlement support provided by employers, organisation charts, and why New Zealanders were declined, to name a few.

This has led to a lengthening of application processing times and higher decline rates, specifically for visitor visas, where INZ had initially taken a very light-touch approach, and for those that received recovery visas through an agent for money (which is considered to be a scam). 

These groups of people need to carefully evaluate their options for staying in New Zealand longer term, in light of INZ’s heightened scrutiny.

If you are trying to figure out your options, contact us so we can give you honest advice about your long-term prospects in New Zealand.


Media excerpts source: 

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