What is the change? New Zealand authorities have grown stricter when processing residence applications in the Skilled Migration Category, requiring employers to complete employment verification questionnaires within five business days.

What does the change mean? The change has led to faster processing times but also puts more responsibility on employers to respond to authorities’ questions in a timely manner.

  • Implementation time frame: Immigration New Zealand began setting firm time frames for employers early this year.
  • Visas/permits affected: Permanent residence visas in the Skilled Migration Category.
  • Who is affected: Permanent residence applicants and their employers.
  • Impact on processing times: Though it is still early, processing times appear to be improving. Some applications have been approved within a month. Previously, applications took at least three months.
  • Business impact: The faster processing time is generally good news for employers and employees so long as they are well organised going into the application process and are able to respond to authorities’ questions in the time allowed for them to do so.

Background: The Skilled Migration Category is the most common way for foreign nationals to obtain permanent residency in New Zealand. The new processing rules stem from review that Immigration New Zealand undertook with the goal of speeding up processing times.

Immigration New Zealand has signalled that it will be less flexible with requests to extend time frames for documents or information. It began requiring employers to complete and return questionnaires verifying work arrangements within five business days, saying extensions would not be granted without extenuating circumstances. The strict time frames have led to faster processing times but have also caused problems for some applicants and employers who have not been prepared. For example, if all necessary documentation is not provided with the application when it is filed, the applicant will have very limited time to provide it. If the documentation is not provided within the required time frame, the application is likely to be declined.

BAL Analysis: Employers should be prepared to respond to Immigration New Zealand’s employment verification questionnaires within five business days. Authorities have made it clear they will be less flexible about granting extensions and residence applications may be jeopardised if deadlines are missed.

This alert has been provided by BAL Australia. For additional information, please contact

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