7 Nov 2013

Hundreds of visas wrongly declined

9:15 pm on 7 November 2013

The Department of Immigration has had to apologise after mishandling hundreds of visa applications.

The mistake was uncovered after the Ombudsman received 14 complaints from spouses wanting to join their partners in New Zealand and concluded that officials in New Delhi and Mumbai had incorrectly assessed their applications.

Immigration New Zealand has had to reassess 473 visa applications after the Ombudsman found it had wrongly declined visas for spouses of Indian migrants between July 2011 and March this year.

The organisation's area manager says all the applications are being looked at and it appears the majority will get approval.

Michael Carley says the error was caused by a fault in training and they have sent someone to India to provide extra coaching for the 100 staff there.

However, immigration expert David Cooper from the company Malcolm Pacific, believes that is not the sole reason for the situation.

"The issue has been stated of one of training. I'm kind of wondering if it's also one of mindset. These things don't happen in isolation. Applications on that sort of scale are not being declined simply because somebody has been badly trained."

Mr Cooper says he has clients from India who have been waiting up to a year for their spouse to arrive.

Immigration New Zealand says it is open to refunding application fees if requested.