Business as usual for local immigration branch

The closure of the Dunedin branch of Immigration New Zealand should not affect the Queenstown branch and its service for overseas visitors applying for work visas, the department says.

The Dunedin branch will be replaced with a ''visa application centre'', the first outsourced to a third party in the country. It will manage administration related to visa applications submitted both in person and by mail.

Visa applications submitted via the centre will be processed by the Christchurch branch.

The closure of the Dunedin branch, in October at the earliest, in favour of a centre with a reduced capability, will leave the branch in Remarkables Park Town Centre the only dedicated Immigration New Zealand office in the South Island outside Christchurch, the city which continues to process resident visa applications.

People from 84 countries applied for temporary visas at the Queenstown branch from 2010 to 2012. In the same period, 74 nationalities applied for temporary work visas.

Inquiries by the Queenstown Times were prompted by anecdotal comments from British, Irish and European ex-pats living on visas in the resort, who had reservations about leaving their employment and lifestyle and returning home to an uncertain job market and economic recession.

The top five countries applying for temporary work visas are citizens of the United Kingdom, Brazil, Ireland, the Philippines and Japan, according to Immigration NZ. The UK is also the top source country for working holiday-makers.

An Immigration NZ spokeswoman said last week the total number of applications received in 2012 was similar to 2011. The number of student, working holiday and visitor visa applications has been slowly increasing, following a drop from a peak in 2010.

There were 3151 visa applications decided across all temporary categories in 2012. The total was slightly down on 3691 applications in 2011 and down significantly from 4202 in 2010.

''Queenstown branch has a relatively steady inflow of applications throughout the year. However, there are two seasonal peaks for work visa applications - September-October for the summer season and June-July for the winter season,'' she said.

In the period from July 2, 2012, to 11 January 11, 2013, the Queenstown branch completed 90% of all visa applications within 25 days.


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