Visas for visits to New Zealand will not be processed in South Africa from March since New Zealand has decided to close down its visa processing office in Pretoria.
South Africans currently require a visa to enter New Zealand. For several years, the country was one of only a few South Africans were able to travel to with visa-free access.
The New Zealand government decided to end visa-free access for South Africans when it introduced visa requirements in January 2017. This was done because it felt that the visa-free access afforded to South African passport holders posed a threat to New Zealand’s safety and security.
Catriona Robinson, deputy head of Immigration New Zealand, said INZ was forced to make some changes in order to reduce her department’s costs and contribute to the country’s economic recovery. Robinson added that three overseas visa processing offices would close in March 2021.
Visa processing in India, the Philippines and South Africa will no longer take place from March. The processing of visas by these overseas visa centres will now be handled in New Zealand in future.
“As a result, INZ has made the difficult decision to close our offices in Mumbai, Manila and Pretoria by March 2021 and bring more visa processing onshore,” Robinson said.
New Zealand’s borders have been closed for almost a year. This resulted in the absence of international visitors travelling to the country. Consequently, no visas needed to be processed by the overseas visa processing centres.
The volume of visa applications from people outside New Zealand has decreased significantly, resulting in INZ having to evaluate the need for overseas operations.
“These offices have been closed since March 2020 and, with no certainty about when visa volumes may return to normal, INZ has had to make some tough decisions.”
The closure of visa processing offices in the three countries will lead to job losses. Robinson thanked the staff who had served INZ. The closures will affect a total 329 staff at the three offices.
“This is not a decision that we have made lightly. Our staff in these offices have made a significant contribution to INZ and New Zealand,” Robinson said.
Robinson said reduced volumes of visa applications, coupled with technological advancements, would enable INZ to improve its onshore visa processing capacity.
“The rollout of new technology functions aims to improve efficiency and resilience throughout INZ, which will help to us to better manage peaks and troughs in visa volumes while giving users of the immigration system a better customer experience,” Robinson said.