New Zealand Embassy Brasilia, Brazil

Upcoming changes to visa processing in South America

Currently, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) provides visa services on behalf of Immigration New Zealand (INZ) in three South American locations – Brasilia, Buenos Aires, and Santiago. The provision of these services will transition from MFAT to Immigration New Zealand (INZ) from 27 November 2012.

INZ is progressing plans and working closely with MFAT to manage this transition.

INZ is introducing a new global service delivery model for visa processing. Changes have already been made in the Pacific and Asia and will continue to be phased into Europe and the Americas.

To manage visa services in the Americas a new INZ office has been established in Washington DC and a new INZ satellite office in Los Angeles.
INZ’s transition plans have also taken account of the fact that INZ is introducing a new ICT system – the Immigration Global Management System – known as IGMS. IGMS will provide a modern, stable and fit-for-purpose ICT system, which will support INZ’s current and future business requirements. It will better enable INZ to respond to the changing needs of NZ employers, tourism and education providers. The planned first delivery from IGMS will be online student applications from late 2013. Given that around 50% of visa applications from South America are for student visas this will be a significant benefit to managing these types of visa in the longer term.

On 27 November, a Visa Application Centre (VAC) will be established in Washington DC and this will be the receiving office for the applications that are currently submitted to Brasilia, Buenos Aires, and Santiago.

VACs provide visa facilitation services only. They cannot provide immigration advice and have no influence over the outcome of an application for a New Zealand visa, which can only be decided by an INZ officer.

The VAC will have a dedicated call centre to support applicants. It will handle telephone and email enquiries relating to the application process and be staffed with English, Spanish and Portuguese speakers.

Once these changes are in place (from 27 November 2012) a visa applicant will need to mail or courier their application to the VAC in Washington DC.

There will be no change to the forms and accompanying materials needed, nor the decision making process.  Application fees will also be subject to a review from the same date 27 November 2012 and may change.

The VAC will check that all required information is provided before the application is forwarded to INZ. This will have a flow on effect on processing timeliness, resulting in faster decisions for customers.

INZ is committed to improving the customer experience and applicants can expect an improved processing time, despite the need to mail/courier documents to Washington DC.

Closer to the implementation date, supporting materials will be provided that will set out the contact details for the new receiving office for applications. These materials will be translated and available on the INZ and MFAT websites.

Until notified otherwise, applicants are encouraged to make their applications in the usual manner. There is no reason to delay submitting an application – and likewise no urgency to submit. Any applications lodged prior to 27 November 2012 will continue to be processed and assessed as currently.

MFAT and INZ are working closely to manage the transition and to ensure that we continue to deliver for our customers and partners during this time.

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