Iain Lees-Galloway has admitted he is ‘concerned’ about visa application waiting times, but that won’t help businesses crying out for employees, National’s Immigration spokesperson Stuart Smith says.
"Essential skills visa processing times have almost doubled, to 76 days, since the Government took office. This is unacceptable at a time when businesses are desperate for workers, with reports of some closing early when they can’t cope.
"Visa delays hit the regions particularly hard. Businesses outside of main centres rely on tourists to staff their operations and processing delays make this near impossible.
"It isn’t just the essential skills visa category that is under pressure – 13 out of 14 visa categories have seen their waiting times increase under this Government. More applications were made under the New Zealand Residency Programme than the current planning range allows for," says Stuart.
"The education sector has an estimated loss of $70 million due to delays in student visas, while visitor visa delays are causing tourism companies to cancel tours.
"Migrants are paying for a service to get their visas processed and Immigration New Zealand is not providing the level of service that New Zealanders would expect.
"The Minister hasn’t provided any clear answers on how things are going to be improved, apart from saying they are hiring some more staff.
"National knows migrants bring skills, capital and connections," says Stuart.
"They make our country an even better place, providing opportunities and creating jobs for all New Zealanders, as well as helping our economy grow.
"I am calling on the Minister to give clarity for businesses, educators, families and most importantly, immigrants on how he plans to rectify this increase in delays."