25 Aug 2011

Work visas taking too long in Queenstown

10:56 am on 25 August 2011

Queenstown business owners have asked Immigration Minister Jonathan Coleman to help speed the time it takes for foreign nationals to obtain a work visa.

Dr Coleman was in Queenstown on Wednesday and heard that visas are taking longer than 30 days to be approved.

Restaurant owner Grant Sneddon told the minister he nearly had to close his doors because staff were unavailable while visas were considered.

The minister also heard that communications between the local immigration office and businesses have broken down.

Dr Coleman resolved to help improve relations between the employers and the department and pledged to reduce the time it takes to issue visas to 20 days.

But he said, with unemployment at 6%, the department needs that time to ensure there are no New Zealanders who can do the work.