SOUTHERN MAN IMMIGRATION BLOG

The Lunatics Now Appear To Be Running The Asylum

September 19, 2014
Iain MacLeod

Sometimes, when sitting with friends having a dinner party I try and explain what I do all day. Don’t get me wrong, the story I am about to tell is the reason that we are in business – the lunacy of the immigration process and the people who implement it have created this niche business. I am thankful for them but do worry about the mental health of my colleagues from time to time – we are all driven to the edge of insanity at least, oh, twice a day by these people.

The background to this week’s blog is that the Immigration Department decided in their infinite wisdom a year or two ago to outsource the receipting of visa applications to third party, private sector ‘Visa Application Centres’ in different parts of the world. These VACs as they are known were tasked with doing two simple tasks – checking that a visa application meets the minimum lodgement requirements (usually nothing more than a form, fee and passport) and to collect the application fee. Thereafter they are to send the visa application on to the Immigration Department for substantive process. They were in a nutshell a ‘Post Box’ for the Immigration Department. Pretty simple right? How hard could it really be?

Like most new initiatives of the Immigration Department designed to solve some perceived problem they have (and I don’t know what this one was) they end up by creating a thousand new ones.

The sting in the tail for applicants is the VACs charge their own application fees to collect my Government’s application fees and in the case of most temporary visas this has meant an increase in cost to the applicant of over 40%. The sting for us is we now have to deal with them as well as the Immigration Department.

If the VACs added some demonstrable value and streamlined the process for the applicant or me one might think this outsourcing made some sense.

Trouble is that it hasn’t.

All it has done is to add another layer of complexity and cost to the long suffering visa applicant and their increasingly frustrated Advisers.

What follows is a verbatim exchange between some drone inside a VAC and one of my colleagues last week. We had filed the visa correctly with the appropriate fee but…….

 

From: Help Desk New Zealand in Beijing [mailto:infopek.nzcn@vfshelpline.com]

To: Immagine

Subject: NEWZEALAND VISA APPLICANTION CERTER BEIJING

Dear Sir/Madam

Please provide the applicant‘s Chinese postal address.

 

 

From: Immagine Consultant

To: Help Desk New Zealand in Beijing

Subject: RE: NEWZEALAND VISA APPLICANTION CERTER BEIJING

Hi

We will get this to you shortly. Was it not included in the application form?

 

 

From: Help Desk New Zealand in Beijing [mailto:infopek.nzcn@vfshelpline.com]

To: Immagine

Subject: RE: NEWZEALAND VISA APPLICANTION CERTER BEIJING

Dear Sir/Madam

Thank you for your email

Which part in the application form is the Postal Address?

 

 

From: Immagine Consultant

To: Help Desk New Zealand in Beijing

Subject: RE: NEWZEALAND VISA APPLICANTION CERTER BEIJING

Hi

Please use the following address: 123 Street, China (changed to protect privacy – Southern Man)

 

 

From: Help Desk New Zealand in Beijing [mailto:infopek.nzcn@vfshelpline.com]

To: Immagine

Subject: RE: NEWZEALAND VISA APPLICANTION CERTER BEIJING

Dear Sir/Madam

I mean we need the Chinese adresss not English, please translate Room X, Block Y, No.65 Smith Road, Brown District, China into Chinese

 

 

From: Immagine

To: Help Desk New Zealand in Beijing

Subject: RE: NEWZEALAND VISA APPLICANTION CERTER BEIJING

We will get this to you but in the meantime please forward the application to INZ for processing.

 

 

From: Help Desk New Zealand in Beijing [mailto:infopek.nzcn@vfshelpline.com]

To: Immagine Consultant

Subject: RE: NEWZEALAND VISA APPLICANTION CERTER BEIJING

Dear Sir/Madam

We can lodge this application after you provide the Chinese postal address to us.

 

 

From: Immagine

To: Help Desk New Zealand in Beijing

Subject: RE: NEWZEALAND VISA APPLICANTION CERTER BEIJING

Actually no, you can lodge this application now. The address is not a mandatory lodgement requirement although you have it in English anyway.

Please proceed to lodge the application and I will update INZ and the VAC with the address, when I have it available.

 

 

From: Help Desk New Zealand in Beijing [mailto:infopek.nzcn@vfshelpline.com]

To: Immagine

Subject: RE: NEWZEALAND VISA APPLICANTION CERTER BEIJING

Dear Sir/Madam

Shall we contact with the application to check the address?

 

 

From: Immagine Consultant

To: Help Desk New Zealand in Beijing

Subject: RE: NEWZEALAND VISA APPLICANTION CERTER BEIJING

No need. I will get the information from the applicant and email it to you but in the meantime you can send the application to INZ.

If you prefer I can discuss this with INZ directly.

 

 

From: Help Desk New Zealand in Beijing [mailto:infopek.nzcn@vfshelpline.com]

To: Immagine consultant

Subject: RE: NEWZEALAND VISA APPLICANTION CERTER BEIJING

Dear applicant,

Thank you for your email. It would be appreciated that if you provide us the Chinese character address as soon as possible. After we get it, we will lodge this application and sent to INZ.

Many thanks.

End

 

My colleague in desperation makes contact with someone inside the NZ Embassy who might better understand English….

 

From: IMMagine

To: INZ

Subject: FW: NEWZEALAND VISA APPLICANTION CERTER BEIJINGHi Vivian

Third attempt at this…I am becoming less impressed by the minute. This is the third time I will be telling them the same thing.

I can get the address in Chinese, but the VAC should not be holding the application on this basis.

 

 

From: INZ

To: Immagine

Hi

Thanks for your email. Yes, it is not lodgement requirement. I have talked with VAC about this issue and advised them to send us this application anyway.

 

My colleague was last seen being led away in a straight jacket, drooling from the mouth and mumbling something about canaries.

I am heading home late Friday for a whiskey.

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