Our recommendations

Inquiry into immigration matters (Volume 1): Visa and permit decision-making and other issues.

We recommend that the Department of Labour:

  1. assess whether it has effective internal policies and processes in place for staff to safely raise work-related concerns;
  2. carry out police checks of staff hired to make visa or permit decisions;
  3. periodically reassess the competency of Immigration Officers and Visa Officers, and their supervisory staff, with interpreting and applying immigration policy;
  4. centrally co-ordinate, monitor, and regularly evaluate the extent and sufficiency of training provided to Immigration New Zealand staff who make visa and permit decisions;
  5. evaluate the adequacy and consistency of training provided to staff in specialist roles in Immigration New Zealand;
  6. ensure that Immigration New Zealand branches and business groups use and maintain staff delegation registers, and improve guidance to staff about their delegated powers;
  7. introduce clear and transparent processes to inform Immigration New Zealand staff about the extent and nature of managerial involvement in making visa and permit decisions. If there is a fundamental disagreement, then these processes should include requirements that:
    • staff are protected from approving visa and permit decisions that they disagree with; and
    • staff with delegated authority to overturn or change an immigration decision must, if they do so, record the decision in their own name and delegation;
  8. review the emphasis on target setting in Immigration New Zealand branches to ensure that the quality of visa and permit decisions is not compromised;
  9. review the workflow management for, and prepare standard approaches to, dealing with backlogs of applications for visas and permits;
  10. review the operation of its client risk methodology and evaluate how the methodology’s usefulness can be improved;
  11. improve the recording of the risk profiling carried out for individual visa and permit applications;
  12. consider introducing minimum verification requirements and standards for all visa and permit applications;
  13. consider ways to improve sharing of good practice guidance about documentation standards throughout Immigration New Zealand;
  14. implement processes to regularly review 14. view and monitor the compliance of section 35A decisions with the procedural guidance;
  15. redesign Immigration New Zealand’s Quality Assurance Programme to improve its effectiveness in monitoring the quality of visa and permit decisions;
  16. implement controls to mitigate the risks associated with one individual officer processing and issuing a visa or permit;
  17. embed the changes it has made to the systems and processes for certification of amendments to Government Residence Policy, and regularly confirm that certifications are complete;
  18. identify the lessons learned from the matters of concern that we have identified in the development, promulgation, and implementation of the residual places policies, consider what changes need to be made to systems, processes, and practices, and implement the necessary changes; and
  19. consider how sensitive issues can be appropriately handled by the audit committee.

We recommend that the State Services Commission:

  1. take a more systematic approach to establishing how well departments are handling integrity and conduct matters. It should also consider what steps it could take to increase the likelihood that all significant and sensitive issues are covered in briefings to an incoming chief executive.

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