As we, Immigration Trust wrote about it about 6 weeks ago, it is happening.
Immigration New Zealand is likely to close 12 of its 17 overseas offices, as well as those in central Auckland and Henderson. The move is expected to cut overseas visa officer positions from 650 to 400, while domestic roles are expected to increase from 690 to 960.
INZ general manager Steve Stuart said the moves were a result of more visa processing being done online and in New Zealand. The changes will not affect how far visa applicants abroad have to travel to make applications, because the affected offices dealt with assessments of applications, rather than the applications themselves, and the 39 visa application centres (VACs) operated by INZ were unaffected.
The proposals were forecast to reduce the cost of visa administration by more than $20 million a year by the 2021-22 financial year.
It would cut the number of additional visa officers required to keep up with demand by roughly 100. "Applicants have been able to apply for student visas online since August 2014, and for work and visitor visas since June 2015. Applications for visas not currently available online – such as residence – can be posted," Stuart said. "Feedback from staff and stakeholders is being considered before any changes are made. A decision is expected before the end of next month."
If the closure of the Auckland Central and Henderson offices went ahead, staff would be offered roles in Manukau. Stuart said it was fiscally prudent to move offices away from city centres whenever practicable, and the additional workload would be picked up by boosting numbers at the five remaining offices in Manukau, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Porirua and Christchurch.
Under the proposals, the processing centres in Beijing, Mumbai, and three offices in the Pacific would remain, while those in Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Bangkok, Moscow, New Delhi, Pretoria and Shanghai would close.
Processing would also cease in four other offices – Manila, Washington DC, London and Dubai – where Stuart said a presence would be retained to gather market intelligence, manage risk, carry out verification activities and maintain relationships with key partner countries.