Immigration regulatory system

This page describes the immigration regulatory system, its objectives and our qualitative assessment of it. It also lists the main statutes and changes to regulation either planned or in progress.

System description and objectives

System description

The Immigration Regulatory System is responsible for the provision of immigration services including facilitating and processing visa applications, attracting and supporting migrants and managing immigration risks. It also encompasses the provision of refugee and protection services including selecting and resettling quota refugees, and determining protection for claimants.

It includes the regulation of persons who provide immigration advice; facilitating the education and professional development of Immigration Advisers; and increasing public awareness of the Immigration Advisers Authority.

Objective of the system

The objective of the Immigration Act 2009 is to manage immigration and balance national interest, as determined by the Crown, and the rights of individuals. Government determines the policy objectives for immigration system, and reflects these in immigration instructions.

These policy objectives include using immigration for economic gain and to manage border security, as well as meeting international and humanitarian objectives.

Regulatory assessment completed.

Ministerial portfolio and key statutes

Portfolio Statutes


  • Immigration Act 2009
  • Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007

Other government agencies with substantial role

New Zealand Customs Service



System has some issues against criteria

The Immigration Regulatory System is supporting government policy objectives to use immigration for economic growth and manage border security, by facilitating the entry of tourists, workers, students, migrants, investors and entrepreneurs while managing risk.

Changes to immigration legislation and instructions have been made, or are being developed, to maximise the economic contribution of immigration, including better targeting of migrants to fill skill and labour shortages, ensuring New Zealand businesses’ needs for skills are met, and increasing the level of capital and entrepreneurial skills from business migrants. The system also supports family reunification and international and humanitarian (refugee resettlement) objectives. In a dynamic economic and risk environment ongoing analysis of outcomes is underway to ensure the immigration system is achieving the desired outcomes.


System performing well against criteria

In 2012, INZ launched a business transformation programme called Vision 2015 Programme. The Vision 2015 Programme’s intentions included reorganising the delivery of visa services, upgrading the ICT systems used to process visas, and ensuring support to staff during the transition. As outlined in the Controller and Auditor-General report, INZ’s good management practices resulted in the successful delivery of the Vision 2015 Programme and will help to realise all intended benefits. In general, the Vision 2015 Programme delivered efficiencies to the visa processing service, established online application for all the main temporary visa applications and introduced a world class biometric identity system.

In particular a major investment was made to introduce a world class identity management system, including biometrics, in recognition of the critical role INZ plays in supporting the integrity of the New Zealand identity management ecosystem. This is supporting enhanced regulatory capability to combat identity crime as well as contributing efficiency gains through improved identity assurance in the migration, Justice and border systems.

In addition, INZ conducted a review of the INZ Estimates of Appropriation Performance measures to improve the measures. The objective of the review was to:

  • address the requirements and expectations of New Zealand businesses and communities regarding immigration
  • measure the shift to online service delivery and recognise the investment and benefits from Vision 2015
  • focus on timeliness, quality and customer experience of INZ services
  • focus on compliance and the integrity of the immigration system.

In July 2016 INZ commenced the extension of its Vision 2015 Programme benefits framework to cover the entire change portfolio, build an enterprise benefits register, and extend its performance reporting and data collection. Finally, INZ implemented a Quality Management System (QMS) for the quality assurance of visa decisions; auto-cleared health case data entry, health cases decisions, and medical assessors’ health case determinations.


System has some issues against criteria

We monitor the performance of the system to ensure it is fit-for-purpose to achieve the Government’s long-term objectives for the economy, including whether it provides the right incentives for individual migrants and other stakeholders, such as employers. We are also working with other government agencies to address identified issues, for example exploitation of migrants in the labour market.

Work is being undertaken on potential changes to the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007 to align with occupational regulation best-practice.

Fairness and accountability

System performing well against criteria

Information about the system is widely and proactively disseminated through a variety of channels including websites and stakeholder outreach and by key stakeholders and feedback about the quality of guidance is generally positive. Contact with key stakeholders is frequent and built into regulatory policy and design processes.

A new centralised customer complaints system has been implemented including a new complaints policy to ensure complaints are well managed and any learning is fed into system improvements. A review of fees and levies is underway, and will involve significant stakeholder engagement.

Key service design and operational changes

August 2016 to July 2017

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has refreshed the Visa Processing Operating Model and developed a roadmap of change through to 2020. The key themes involve aligning INZ activities by customer, delivering greater product line accountability for end to end performance, and reviewing the INZ global processing model.

The Border operating model and roadmap has been developed and mobilised. This sets out INZ’s path for working with other agencies which to ensure NZ has a seamless border experience while optimally managing risk.

The eMedical system has been rolled out to the majority of Pacific states providing a more secure and seamless service for applicants requiring an immigration medical. New tools have been added to the Immigration website to make it easy for customers to find panel doctors and establish the fees and levies they are required to pay.

New online payment options such as Union Pay have been incorporated into the Immigration Online Application forms and the number of nationalities can use Smartgates at the border has been expanded.

INZ is working with a range of agencies nationally and internationally to improve compliance and enforcement. These include:

  • Joint Regulatory Engagement Group (JREG) – a cross-MBIE programme
  • The Identity Management Programme in the Justice sector to strengthen law enforcement, border security and the NZ identity eco-system.
  • A treaty has been signed with US State Department and other Migration Five Country partners (Australia, Canada, United Kingdom) after 9 years of negotiation to support world class data sharing.
  • Working with IRD to establish a seamless Digital Registration programme an online tool for new immigrants to register for an IRD number after a visa has been granted.
  • Joint regulatory framework with NZQA across international education and education provider performance.

August 2017 to July 2018

An INZ Controls and Assurance Framework project is underway to review the monitoring of INZ operational activities. This includes monitoring regulatory compliance. The Framework reporting will form part of the INZ System Health evaluation work.

Planned regulatory amendments to legislation for 2017/2018

Matter name Policy implementation Planned consultation Status

Immigration Advisers Licensing Amendment Bill

Matter type: Bills

The Bill would implement a number of changes following a review of the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007.


Initial consultation with agencies and targeted stakeholders complete.

Further consultation on exposure draft proposed.


Possible candidate for inclusion in Regulatory Systems Bill No. 3.

Immigration (Carriers' Information Obligations and Infringement Offences, Fees, and Forms) Amendment Regulations

Matter type:

Legislative Instrument


Changes to information carriers must provide to MBIE for people boarding craft with the intention of departing NZ, and addition of Check-In Port added to APP reporting requirements.


Consultation with affected airlines undertaken.

Expected to be considered by Cabinet mid-2017 and any changes to come into force in September 2017.

Immigration (Visa, Entry Permission, and Related Matters) Amendment Regulations

Matter type:

Legislative Instrument

A review of immigration fees and levies is scheduled for 2017/18, which will likely require changes to rates specified in the regulations.

Consultation will be undertaken following the development of a framework for the review.

Framework for the review is being developed.