On 31 January 2022, enhancements to Immigration New Zealand’s (INZ) online application system went live.
By phasing in paperless visa process technology, applying for a visa should become easier, along with an improvement in processing times.
The general Visitor Visa is the first visa category to move onto the enhanced Immigration Online system, along with others such as the Parent and Grandparent Visitor Visa, the Business Visitor Visa and the COVID-19 Short term visitor visa to name a few.
What changes are being made?
The new enhancements should make applying faster and easier.
New tools have been added to the system to help ensure correct and complete information is provided. These include things like a global address finder, photo quality checker, and in future, a passport eChip verification mobile app.
Applicants are told what evidence they need to submit at the time of application, and Visa sponsors and supporting partners can now submit declarations online, saving time and missing/incomplete postal applications.
The online dashboard now shows the status of an application in real-time, and email notifications are now sent to applicants when further action is needed, once again speeding up the entire process.
Processing starts the moment an online application is submitted, with multiple staff members taking on an application simultaneously from anywhere in the country. Previously, each section had to be completed by one person before being sent onto the next.
Some administrative tasks are also being automated, and this, along with more efficient processing, means fast decisions for more applicants.
Which Visas are being handled by the new system?
The aim is, by this time next year, all visas will be handled by the new system, but until then, there will be a gradual switch over.
From January 31st, the following visas will be handled by the new enhancements:
- Visitor Visa (General)
- Academic visitor visa
- Arts and Music Festival Visitor Visa
- Business Visitor Visa
- COVID-19 Short term visitor visa
- Crew joining a Ship or Plane Visitor Visa
- Dismissed Worker Visitor Visa
- Escort of Medical Patients Visitor Visa
- German Law Student Visitor Visa
- Medical Treatment Visitor Visa
- Occupational Registration Visitor Visa
- Parent and Grandparent Visitor Visa
- Pitcairn Islander Visitor Visa
- Private Yacht or Plane Visitor Visa
- Short-term Entertainment Act Visitor Visa
- Super Yachts Visitor Visa
- Visiting Media Visitor Visa
9 May 2022:
- Employer Accreditation and Job Check for Accredited Employer Work Visas
First half of 2022:
- Student visas
- Group functionality for visitor visa applications
4 July 2022:
- Accredited Employer Work Visa
2022 and beyond:
- Over time, all visa types can be applied for using the enhanced Immigration Online system
Until all visas are moved to the new enhanced system, there will be three systems operating. People will be guided to the right system, depending on the visa they are applying for.
Immigration advisers and agents
The new system features tools designed to support high-volume users of the immigration system, such as licensed immigration advisers and immigration lawyers.
Apply on Behalf feature: Immigration advisers and others exempt from licensing can continue to submit visa applications online on behalf of clients.
Sharing feature: Applicants can share their applications with trusted third parties. Trusted third parties can share applications with their clients.
Email notifications: Email notifications are sent to the primary contact listed in the application.
Networks: Immigration professionals can create a ‘network’, so others in their business can collaborate on applications.
COVID-19 and Border reopening
It’s important to note that the launch of the Visitor Visa on the enhanced Immigration Online system does not signal when the border will reopen to foreign travellers.
Visa processing is still currently suspended for most people who are outside New Zealand (unless they meet the strict border exception criteria or are currently in a COVID-19 quarantine-free travel zone).
Most people need to be fully vaccinated and have a negative COVID-19 test result before travelling to New Zealand. Some people will be able to self-isolate when they arrive rather than staying in managed isolation and quarantine.
Border rules can change quickly, please visit Immigration New Zealand’s COVID-19 page for the latest information.