16 Dec 2011

Immigration New Zealand closes Auckland office

11:25 am on 16 December 2011

Immigration New Zealand is closing its Auckland Pacific branch today and moving all its residency and visa applications back to Suva, Apia and Nuku'alofa.

Twelve staff in Auckland are losing their jobs.

The regional Immigration manager for the Pacific and the Americas, Alan Barry, says the branch no longer has enough work and closing it will save 2.9-million dollars over four years.

He says 85 percent of residency and visa applications come from people living in the islands and the change will give them an improved service.

But an immigration lawyer, Richard Small, says it will make it harder for quota applicants to fulfil the residency requirements and more staff are needed to help them find jobs.

The president of the Auckland Tongan Advisory Council, Melino Maka, says the change will also expose Nuku'alofa staff to more offers of gifts and money.

But Alan Barry says Immigration has robust systems to protect staff and he's confident the island offices will cope.