Govt’s immigration track record causes uncertainty

Despite this afternoon’s immigration announcement, significant questions remain around how Immigration New Zealand (INZ) will be able to process these visas, National’s Immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford says. 

“It will be a relief to many that Labour has finally listened to National and brought forward the full border opening, but Labour has no credibility when it comes to actually delivering the skilled workers they promise. Only six of the 20,000 workers promised under the critical pathway announced in January have arrived in New Zealand so far.

“Two weeks ago, the Prime Minister said the staged re-opening was due to a lack of capacity in processing visas at INZ which is already failing to process visas. Back in 2017 a Visitor Visa took just 21 Days to process, that number is now five months.

“The Labour Government promised that 80 per cent of the 110,000 Resident 2021 Visa applications received would be processed within 12 months. Six months have passed, and INZ is only processing these at half the speed required to meet that target.

“The Government failed to announce the new Skilled Migrant Category and Investor Visa changes. This uncertainty holds people back from committing to New Zealand or pushing them to Australia and other destinations.

“Today’s announcement should have eased the minds of businesses by explaining how the Government is going to get skilled workers into the country right now. However, a cloud of concern remains due to a track record of under delivering. This is despite INZ hiring another 500 staff and spending another $150 million.

“The Immigration Minister had two years of closed borders to prepare and ensure his agency could balance the processing of visas efficiently while also reconnecting New Zealand with the rest of the world. This is an all-too-familiar lack of delivery from Labour.”