India — Immigration New Zealand (INZ), a part of the nation’s ministry of business, innovation and employment, said on Tuesday it will be closing its offices in Mumbai, Pretoria and Manila by March.

In a statement, INZ pointed out that this decision to close offices in Mumbai, South Africa’s Pretoria and the Philippines’ Manila comes in the wake of reduced drop in visitor and student visa applications which were primarily handled in these offices. It oversees the immigration processes and helps migrants as well as asylum seekers to settle in the country.

INZ’s deputy head Catriona Robinson said they have to adapt to New Zealand’s Covid-19 economic recovery as well as focus on the changing work environments.

“INZ has made the difficult decision to close our offices in Mumbai, Manila and Pretoria by March 2021 and bring more visa processing onshore. 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. However, 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,” Robinson said.

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She said that it will gradually withdraw visa processing from its Beijing office and ‘strengthen its risk and verification presence.’ “The Beijing office reopened in September 2020 and is currently processing visa applications for individuals who are already in New Zealand. The timing of the withdrawal of visa processing from Beijing will depend on a number of factors including visa volumes and changes to New Zealand’s border restrictions. INZ will continue to monitor this over the next six months,” Robinson said in the statement.

The statement pointed out that more than 300 employees will be affected by the closing down of the offices. New Zealand has been very restrictive about allowing people from entering the country due to the pandemic. A report on New Zealand-based news website, said that INZ’s offshore offices have been closed since March 2020 after the Ardern-led government declared a Covid-19 lockdown.

New Zealand reported three fresh cases of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) on Tuesday. Prime minister Jacinda Ardern had lifted the temporary lockdown in Auckland last week, which was imposed after a family of three – two adults and a child – were diagnosed with the more transmissible UK variant of coronavirus. Health authorities had conducted more than 70,000 tests to ensure that there was no community transmission before lifting the lockdown. The island nation also rolled out its Covid-19 vaccination drive on Saturday.For any query with respect to this article or any other content requirement, please contact Editor at contentservices@htlive.comHT Digital streams Ltd