PRESS RELEASE | Erica Stanford MP | 17 March 2022 -
Immigration Minister to blame for delayed reopening
The Government’s failure to scale up Immigration New Zealand and prepare it for the border reopening is keeping families apart for longer and delaying our economic recovery, National’s Immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford says.
“The Prime Minister has admitted that the only reason that the border reopening is dragging out until the end of the year is Immigration New Zealand’s inability to process visas.
“That is cold comfort to the many families who have been split for over two years and have to wait until October to apply for visas to be reunited. And even then, they’ll have to wait even longer for their visas to be processed.
“Immigration New Zealand’s website state that seven months is the current processing time for an onshore visitor visa, five months for a work visa and three months for a student visa.
“It’s gut-wrenching for these families who will have to watch as people from Australia arrive in New Zealand next month, knowing it will be seven more months before they can even apply to be reunited with their loved ones. It’s another let-down in a long line of let-downs.
“But the Immigration Minister doesn’t seem too concerned. I asked Kris Faafoi in Parliament today whether he stood by all his actions, but what I really meant was his lack of action.
“He had two years to make sure Immigration New Zealand was geared up to process the influx of visa applications, but did nothing.
“It’s not just split families that are suffering because of his incompetence and laziness.
“Our tourism sector is on its knees, with businesses closing daily because of the lack of tourists. Yesterday’s announcement said nothing about visitors from non-visa waiver countries, which include some of our biggest and most lucrative tourist markets.
“The Minister’s lack of action will directly affect our struggling tourism sector and prolong the pain of families separated from their loved ones.”