Immigration branch faces uncertain future

The Hamilton branch of Immigration New Zealand is one of up to a dozen branches facing restructuring or closure within the next three years as part of a proposed national consolidation process.

Immigration New Zealand general manager Nicola Hogg said the proposed new "global service delivery model" would improve its customer services and consolidate visa decision-making.

"Under the proposals two small branches - Sydney and Dunedin - would close towards the end of next year.

"INZ plans to review a further eight to 10 branches, including the Hamilton branch," she said.

No decisions had been made, but any possible changes were expected to be made progressively over 2014 and 2015.

"If the Hamilton branch closes it will be replaced by a new Visa Application Centre, which manages administrative tasks related to INZ visa applications submitted both in person and by mail.

"They cannot provide immigration advice and have no influence on the outcome of an application for a New Zealand visa, which can only be decided by an INZ officer," Ms Hogg said.

Alternative jobs would be sought in the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment for affected staff.

"Redundancy is only considered as a last resort," she said.

However she said up to 25 jobs could be lost in its Visa Services division.

Under the plan 50 existing branch and regional manager positions would go, along with 16 of the 76 existing immigration manager roles, with 41 new positions created.

"Staff are being consulted on the proposals for a new management structure and timing of other global service delivery model changes and all feedback will be considered before decisions are made."

Hamilton Multicultural Services Trust relationships manager Jovi Abellanosa said the changes were not as bad as they might first seem for members of the migrant community.

She said the 2015 vision would target the attraction and settlement of migrants and the provision of consistent and easily accessible information for them.

Waikato Times