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Visa processing times are continuing to increase despite millions being pumped into Immigration New Zealand, National’s Immigration spokesperson Stuart Smith says.

“Visa delays are having a major impact on our economy. Businesses can’t get the workers they need and tertiary institutes are missing out on millions of dollars of international student revenue. Fruit will ripen on the trees and there will be no one to pick it.

“Figures from Immigration New Zealand (INZ) show 13 out of 14 of the main visa categories are being processed slower now than under the previous National Government. In the past year alone, the average processing times for residence visas, student visas and work visas have all slowed by at least 50 days.

“Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway has confirmed through Written Parliamentary Questions that the visitor visa processing times have slowed down by a hundred days on average.

“The slowdown is despite INZ hiring an additional 177 staff, costing $11.7 million, to deal with visa processing pressures.

“The Minister should be showing leadership and sorting out these issues immediately, instead he has allowed INZ to change the data they provide to make it look like they are processing visas faster.

“Instead of playing around with how the data is presented, the Minister should be directing his officials to get on with the job and focus on actually processing visas.

“National understands the benefits of sound immigration policy from an economic, social and cultural perspective. We want to see visas processed in a timely manner so businesses can hire the right talent for them and don’t have to sit in limbo waiting for months.”

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