The Immigration Service

I don’t think we realise how bad things have been. The ODT editorial lays some of it out:

Mr Brady’s report was initiated under the Clark government, but it will be the National-led Government that must fix the problems long identified.

Among these are the grounds for approving or declining applicants for entry to this country, since it is obvious from his report that these are so variable, and so subjective, as to be nonsensical in some cases.

It is especially concerning that some branches had invented their own risk profiles rather than using the service’s standard assessment guide.

Some might also find it quite extraordinary that in the year 2009, the service’s computer system cannot store basic identity and verification information, such as photographs and scanned copies of passports, or that the majority of our overseas posts that process visa applications cannot access the system.

This means, according to Mr Brady, that nearly 40,000 visa applications a year are processed without access to the applicant’s application history and travel history, or to any warnings or alerts stored in the service’s computer.

Amazing. This is the most basic requirement.

And Immigration Minister Jonathan Coleman doesn’t hold back on Q&A:

GUYON OK, let’s turn to your ministerial responsibility of immigration and start with your department.   The Auditor General’s report that was released recently – it’s a fairly damning report on the department.

JONATHAN It is. Absolutely.

How nice to have a Minister not try and sugar coat it.

GUYON Basically they’re saying that this department is rushing its visa decisions about who gets into the country and making very poor judgements about who gets into this country.  I mean how bad are things?

JONATHAN Look that is a very bad report and we knew things were bad but this really confirms it and what its really showing is that if you go to a New Zealand Immigration office you can get a different decision on a different day depending on who you speak to and what branch you go to…it’s unacceptable.

GUYON It’s a lottery..

JONATHAN It’s unacceptable and it has to be fixed.  They’re saying that 21% of the decisions are not up to scratch.   In the Pacific division that was 40% so things  definitely have got to change because customers are not getting the service.

And how many years had this been going on for?

JONATHAN Well there’s people acting in some of those roles at the moment and they will apply for their jobs as part of that process.   But the other thing we’re going to do, we’re going to be putting in someone independent to work alongside the CE as a liaison between me and the CE to make sure these changes get implemented.

GUYON So the Chief Executive gets a minder essentially?

That is not exactly a vote of confidence in the CE.

GUYON Can I just clarify something you said, you said that 20% of those decisions were poor quality decisions..

JONATHAN that’s right, not up to scratch&

GUYON now the department approves 543,000 visa and permanent applications a year, does that mean about a hundred thousand people are in New Zealand who shouldn’t be?

JONATHAN Well it could also mean there’s a lot of people in New Zealand or who aren’t in New Zealand who by rights could be.  I mean we don’t. It’s hard to quantify really what it means one way or the other, but what we do know is its completely unacceptable& and the quality of service really has to improve within a time line.

What a mess. He has his work cut out.

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