In an attempt to move almost the entire visa application process online by 2015, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) recently announced plans to implement a new technology platform called Immigration Online. The purpose of this platform is to make New Zealand visa applications no longer dependent on physical offices where paper applications are processed manually, thereby speeding up the whole process and enabling greater sharing of information. It is hoped that by the end of 2014 the entire application and decision-making process will be available online for all types of visa, including New Zealand partner and spousal visa applications made under the family spouse migration category and de facto partner policy.
It will soon be possible to upload scans of supporting documents and identity information such as photographs, driving licence or passport online, which are used in the New Zealand visa application process. As well as attempting to speed up the visa application and decision process, the Immigration Online platform is also designed to make the sharing of information between various government agencies easier. Other parties who may be able to share visa application and personal information include educational institutions, migration agents working on behalf of a visa applicant, employers wishing to check if an individual is eligible to work in the country, and law enforcement agencies responsible for preventing immigration fraud and general criminality. The New Zealand Immigration Department is keen to stress that personal information will only be shared with an applicant’s knowledge and consent.
Immigration Online will also be used to collect and share biometric information. This is personal information which is completely unique to an individual and is used to distinguish one person from another. Again, this is largely for the purpose of preventing criminal activity and immigration fraud where the person arriving in New Zealand is not the same as the person who made the application overseas for example. Ultimately, it is hoped that this new information technology system will mean that genuine applicants will see their applications dealt with more efficiently. For example, those looking to apply for a partner, husband or wife visa to reunite with their New Zealand partner will be able to do so more swiftly, simply because the process has been moved online.
Also known as the Immigration Global Management System, or IGMS, Immigration Online was first given government approval in November 2011 and is subject to an $80 million budget.