Chief Ombudsman finds unreasonable delay in processing urgent residence application by Immigration NZ Loading Comments…
Chief Ombudsman Dame Beverley Wakem | April 26, 2013
The Chief Ombudsman has found that Immigration New Zealand acted unreasonably in the manner in which it processed an application for residence. The complainant had fled from his home country and was living in perilous circumstances a refugee camp in Kenya with his wife and young children. He and his family had applied to join his sister who was resident in New Zealand
The Chief Ombudsman Dame Beverely Wakem has held, in a decision delivered earlier this month, that a delay on the part of INZ in processing the application (which amounted to four years) was unreasonable and that the application should have been prioritised due to the dire circumstances the applicant and his young family were facing. INZ had refused to prioritise the application, and instead required the applicant to wait in chronological order for his application to be processed, in spite of his circumstances being brought to its attention on a number of occasions. While some of the delay occurred as a result of a national security check undertaken by an external agency, INZ failed to contact the agency and ask for the matter to be prioritised in spite of regular requests for urgency by the applicant's representative.
Dame Beverley was pleased that INZ agreed to expedite the complainant's application in the course of the investigation, which she commenced in August last year. However she was concerned at INZ's refusal to apply a broader solution to numerous other applicants facing similar circumstances. Under the current system applicants are generally required to wait their turn in chronological order irrespective of their circumstances, unless there is a "critical life and death situation".
INZ considered that creating a priority system for applicants in the position of the complainant would create an "undue administrative burden" for INZ because of the numbers of persons involved.
Dame Beverley considered this position to be "untenable" and made the following recommendations:
- That the Immigration Profiling Group broadens its standards for affording urgency to applications beyond "a critical life and death situation" to include applicants that are suffering particular hardship or deprivation.
- That INZ puts in place processes to ensure all current and future residence applicants who are suffering particular hardship or deprivation are dealt with on a priority basis, including those in managed queues.
- INZ routinely advises the external agency which applications it seeks to have afforded priority.
- INZ seeks to implement protocols with the external agency to manage communications surrounding the prioritising of the urgent caseload.
- INZ reports back to the Chief Ombudsman on its implementation of recommendations a, b, c, and d within 20 working days of receipt of her final opinion and periodically thereafter if necessary on dates to be notified.
Dame Beverley commends INZ's prompt agreement to implement her recommendations, which she received within days of her final opinion. She says "INZ's decision to implement new processes for prioritising such applications will help to alleviate the suffering of numerous persons awaiting the outcome of their residence applications".
Dame Beverley's full opinion can be viewed hereBack to top ↑