What is the change? Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has announced that visa processing delays are expected following the closure of its Beijing visa processing office.

What does the change mean? INZ is transferring incoming visa applications from its Beijing office to other offices and has relocated immigration officers who normally work on Essential Skills visas to assist in processing visitor and student visa applications. As a result, INZ expects that this will increase the overall visa processing times of Essential Skills Work Visa applications.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Visitor visas, student visas, and Essential Skills visas.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals applying for New Zealand visas, particularly Essential Skills Work Visas.
  • Business impact: Employers may face delays moving foreign nationals to New Zealand.

Background: The Beijing office, which processes roughly 10,000 applications weekly, closed temporarily on Jan. 24 amid coronavirus concerns. The closure resulted in a reduction of 130 immigration officers who process visas.

Analysis & Comments: Although INZ has assigned 50 immigration officers who normally work on Essential Skills visas to process visitor and student visas from the Beijing office, they are currently facing a two-week backlog of over 13,000 applications. Essential Skills visa applications are currently taking 10 days to be allocated to an officer for processing, but could take up to six weeks, depending on developments in the coming weeks. Employers must be prepared to be flexible with employee schedules and start dates for employees who are affected by travel restrictions and delays. Deloitte will alert clients to additional changes or restrictions as information becomes available.

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