Website crashes as applications open for fast-track migrant resident visas

Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi says the fast-tracked resident visa is expected to be in high demand.

ROBERT KITCHIN/Stuff

Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi says the fast-tracked resident visa is expected to be in high demand.

Thousands of migrants attempting to gain a new fast-tracked residency visa were left frustrated after the Government application website crashed the moment it opened.

The one-off simplified residency pathway through the Government’s “2021 resident visa” is available to migrants who have lived in New Zealand for the last three years or who work in skilled or scarce jobs, and were in the country on September 29.

As many as 15,000 migrants will be able to apply.

But the website crashed as soon as it opened on Wednesday morning.

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Wellingtonian Jess Vidal had got up hours early to be ready to apply for the visa when the application process opened at 6am,

A Briton in New Zealand trying to get residency so she can get back to the UK after four years away from her family, she was left frustrated at not being able to log on.

“We all seem to be greeted by this almost taunting blue loading circle which would drive any sleep deprived, highly caffeinated individual to the brink,” she said.

She had been trying to get through for the last hour and a half.

“I’m feeling incredibly upset about this,” she said.

“I feel as though every second this is down this another week I’ll have to wait for immigration to finally process my visa. Which means even more time away from my family.”

Vidal is wanting to return to the UK for at least a month after the borders reopen from May 1.

Another migrant worker, who asked not to be named, said he had been looking forward to “finally being able to apply”, but after more than an hour of trying since 6am, was still unable to apply.

“The Government has had months to get this right,” he said.

“I’m shocked they didn’t anticipate this problem and ensure the website was able to cope with the increased demand.”

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has been approached for comment, but when contacted at 7.15am, a spokesperson said they had not been made aware of the issue.

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To be eligible for the first phase a person must also have already submitted either a skilled migrant category application, residence from work application, or skilled migrant category expression of interest which includes dependent children who were 17 years or older on September 29.

A further 150,000 migrants could be eligible for the 2021 resident visa in phase two which opens for applications from March next year.

Applications for both phase one and phase two will be open until July 31 next year.

Faafoi said Immigration New Zealand was committed to processing the vast majority of the applications within 12 months.

“This one-off pathway provides certainty for a great many migrant families who have faced disruption because of Covid-19 and it will help retain the skills New Zealand businesses need to support the economic recovery,” said Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi.

“The Government has created this new one-off residence pathway recognising the immense contribution migrants have made to New Zealand during Covid-19 and appreciating the uncertainty they have faced with border restrictions.

“We are expecting high demand in the first few weeks.”

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