What are the 2021 Resident Visa hold-ups?

It is becoming evident that Immigration NZ’s automated system appears to be stalling. Many people are stuck in the early stages while others, mostly single applicants, are lucky enough to have already been granted their new resident visas.

Our Greenstone advisers have created a short animation to help explain how the new 2021 resident visas are being processed by Immigration.

Description of the process 

  • The automated system starts processing applications based on their expiry date.
  • For each application, it runs a series of automated checks until it finds a problem or requires more information.
  • It then sends a request for information to the client for additional documents or flags the application for attention by an Immigration Officer if it is an Immigration NZ problem.
  • The system then moves on to the next application and runs through this process again

What are the bottlenecks?

In theory, once automated checks are done and the client submits information requested by Immigration, the application could continue through the steps. However, it can only proceed once an immigration officer has manually checked the information provided or confirmed the problem is resolved. This manual check is what is taking a long time. The majority of applications are stuck at some part of this process, with immigration officers having too many applications to manually review in a timely manner.

Immigration NZ will get through the 2021 resident visa applications, but it will take them some time, potentially up to 18 months.

Stages to a 2021 Resident visa application

 1: Preparing application

The stage includes (likely an incomplete list):

  • Check of application form
  • Check of passport photo
  • Check for passport requirements (offshore applicants only)
  • Check all documents are in order
  • Check system information matches and is in order

Roadblocks (likely an incomplete list) requiring manual checks:

  • The application requires passports (often requested in error)
  • INZ records are incomplete or have errors
  • Passport photo corrupt
  • The file failed to upload

2: Gathering Information

Includes (likely an incomplete list):

  • Request for NZ police vetting check
  • Check of medicals
  • National security checks

Roadblocks (likely an incomplete list) requiring manual checks:

  • Medicals requested incorrectly
  • Police vetting check received awaiting manual input

3: Under Assessment

Includes (likely an incomplete list):

  • Check eligibility criteria
  • Check if partners included

Roadblocks (likely an incomplete list) requiring manual checks:

If not single and settled, likely requires a review of the application by an immigration officer (see assessing)

4: Assessing (may be automated if the applicant is single and settled)


  • Eligibility check for the skilled or scarce list
  • Partnership and dependent children assessment

Roadblocks (likely an incomplete list) requiring manual checks:

  • Additional documents required

5: Approved


  • Grant of visa


Steven Dunning

Licensed Immigration Adviser