No INZ review date set yet
Visa issuing concerns raised
An employers’ advocate says the Government has given an assurance to consult the business community before deciding the future of Immigration New Zealand’s (INZ) Queenstown branch.
Last year, the Government announced a review of branches and proposals to centralise services, relocate centres and improve technology.
Queenstown was one branch earmarked for a review, which led to concern among employers because the resort and parts of Central Otago rely on fast processing times for migrant visas and temporary workers.
Independent employers’ advocate Don Rhodes, of Omakau, said members were concerned about potential delays when processing temporary visas for people working in tourism, hospitality, viticulture and horticulture.
‘‘I have spoken directly with the minister, he assured me when they get to the stage where they are looking at moving they’ll come back to the Central Otago community for input.
An Immigration spokeswoman said a review of the Queenstown branch had not been done yet.
Asked whether the branch potentially faced closure, she said the outcome of a review could include closure but it would also consider whether an Immigration presence was necessary in Queenstown.
‘‘Immigration may decide to retain the office or retain a presence in Queenstown. This would mean that while no visa processing would occur at this location an employee may be present to manage Immigration risk, attraction or relationship management requirements.’’
The Government plans to introduce electronic visa processing, Immigration Online, which would let people lodge applications for temporary visas without visiting an office.
She said there was no timeframe for the review but last year the Otago Southland Employers’ Association said they were told a review was expected by the end of this year.
Rhodes said Queenstown employers valued a trusted partnership scheme with Immigration, a fast-tracking system for businesses with a high turnover of casual or migrant staff.
The Queenstown INZ branch at Remarkables Park has eight staff.