A Brazilian man who waited 43 days for his visa application to be processed says Queenstown is failing immigrants.
Carlos Ferrari, 38, is one of about 960 overseas workers so far this year who’ve been left on the hop by Immigration New Zealand’s (INZ) local branch office.
INZ has a deadline of 30 days to process applications, which it aims to meet 85 per cent of the time.
But since January, the Queenstown office has only met that target on average for 77 per cent of the 4176 applications.
The good news for migrant workers is it’s approved all but about 150 applications.
Frustrated Ferrari finally received his approved application on Tuesday, after contacting Mountain Scene to complain about the elastic deadline.
He says: “They shouldn’t make these promises, giving us false hope with deadlines they know they can’t make.
“Or they should hire more staff.”
Car groomer Ferrari, who’s on his second work visa, says minimum wage workers don’t have the spare cash to survive unplanned delays.
His delay was three weeks.
The government has already streamlined the process after a clamour from Queenstown employers trying to fill low-skilled jobs.
Late last year it introduced a temporary exemption so employers didn’t have to prove there are no Kiwis for jobs.
Since that expired on June 30, Work and Income now contacts Kiwis looking for work.
On Monday, desperate Ferrari wondered if he’d have to beg for food, adding: “Should I pitch a tent in the immigration office because I have no money for rent?”
He wrote to Queenstown’s council, warning that unhappy immigrants the resort relies on are being treated “like garbage” by employers.
He quit one job because an employer “stole” hours.
“The employers say if you don’t like it then go, because I have hundreds I can put in your place.”
INZ area manager Michael Carley admits it failed to meet the deadline for Ferrari’s visa.
He says processing times depend on an application’s complexity and if information needs to be clarified.
Carley explains the Queenstown branch office has been hit by recent staff turnover and seasonal peaks.
It’s one of five offices threatened with closure, as the service moves online.