Brenda made this Official Information request to Department of Internal Affairs
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Dear Department of Internal Affairs,
Please could you clarify how citizen applications are being allocated and processed?
I have been informed that applications are being allocated to officers in date order of applying. However, this does not seem to be true as applications are being approved by applicants who have applied in Oct 2021, Nov 2021, Dec 2021 and there have even been a few Jan 2022’s.
Maybe it would also help to explain the timeline of an application? As I understand there are automated checks. It seems like this makes a difference on when your application eventually gets allocated.
From: Service Advice And Support (Team Inbox)
Department of Internal Affairs
Thank you for your email.
In an effort to reduce the backlog of New Zealand citizenship by grant
applications, we have moved to assessing applications using more automated
checks. These automated checks include matching the information the
applicant supplies as part of their citizenship application with
information Immigration New Zealand (INZ) records.
We can then use the INZ information to confirm most of an applicant’s
eligibility for citizenship, including automatically calculating whether
they meet the presence requirement. This means that some applicants can be
processed much more quickly than others, as they require fewer checks to
be made manually by a case officer.
We are working to increase the amount of processing that can be done
automatically and expect this to have a very significant impact on the
overall applications waiting to be processed. We are already seeing
reduced average processing times, and this is likely to continue to have a
significant impact in coming weeks.
Some things do need a human check. For example, where the applicant has
changed their name since migrating to New Zealand, where they do not
clearly meet all the requirements or where there are issues with their
photo. Applicants who do not meet the presence requirement the day they
applied for citizenship also do not meet the automatic checks.
Automated checks are one of the first things to be completed after an
application is submitted and paid for. It is not always possible to advise
an applicant why their application did not pass the automated checks as it
can be due to various reasons. An application that does not pass all the
automated checks remains in the queue for allocation to a case officer and
further follow up.
We are also not able to tell you why one application was processed faster
than another but can assure you that we do not arbitrarily process
applications based on random choice or a personal decision.
In rare circumstances we may be able to assess an application urgently
regardless of automated checks. A request for urgency is usually only
approved in a situation that is out of the applicants control and they are
unable to get a travel document. We will also take into consideration
whether citizenship is required: to travel for a medical emergency; to
represent New Zealand; for work or deployment; or for humanitarian
reasons. If an application is assessed urgently, that does not affect the
time required for completing all the necessary checks.
Please note, we are still in the process of updating the information
published on our website to provide more detail about the way we are
processing now. You’ll be able to see more information about this on our
In terms of a timeline for how an application is processed, once an
application is allocated to a case officer, the application is assessed,
and internal and external checks are completed. How long the processing
takes depends on the information received in the application, how long any
necessary external checks take, and whether or not the applicant meets the
standard requirements. Therefore an application with no issues will take
less time to be completed that an application that requires more work.
Once the assessment is completed by the case office, the application is
reviewed/checked by another case officer.
We know it can be disconcerting if someone who applied for citizenship
after you is processed before you. Each application for citizenship is
unique and we are not able to tell you the details of another person’s
application or why their application was processed before another.
Vaughan Millar (he/him) | Kaitohutohu Matua
Kāwai ki te Iwi |Service Delivery and Operations
Te Tari Taiwhenua |The Department of Internal Affairs
www.govt.nz/bdm | https://smartstart.services.govt.nz |
www.passports.govt.nz | www.govt.nz/authentications |
https://wheturangitia.services.govt.nz | https://mytrove.co.nz
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