6 Sep 2013

Overloaded computer system blamed for visa bungle

9:03 pm on 6 September 2013

An overloaded computer system is being blamed for privacy breaches and overfilling a work visa scheme.

The Silver Fern visa allows skilled people aged 20-35 to work in New Zealand for nine months.

The annual cap is 300 places but a report to Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse says 415 applications were accepted online this year, although not all will be fully granted.

The report said the places on the visa scheme were snapped up within 10 minutes of becoming available in April, with thousands of people trying to get hold of them.

Changes were made last year after a similar problem, when more than 600 online applications were accepted.

Immigration lawyer for Lane Neave Lawyers, Mark Williams, says getting a Silver Fern visa is never certain.

"I think it is a lottery. Luck is involved because the numbers are so limited in terms of 300 places."

He said the advantage is the visa offers certain applicants a different avenue rather than them clogging up the general system.

IT specialist David Verschaffelt said the Government should have learned from last year's mistake.

"Within the realm of technology, things do move fast. While it's not always easy, you should be able to, if you've had a problem in the past, remedy that and not have those same issues," Mr Verschaffelt said.

"You should be able to at least foresee that it could be an issue and put in place measures to allow for greater workload and greater workflow."

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said he had asked Immigration New Zealand to change the way Silver Fern Visas were processed next year, to avoid a repeat of the problems.