The immigration system workforce

Find out about the immigration system workforce and what they do.

14 November 2023
4 minute read

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) is the operational delivery function of an integrated immigration system. As part of the system we:

  • grant visas to people New Zealand needs to work, visit, study, or settle here
  • make sure that people crossing the border and staying in New Zealand are entitled to do so
  • help migrants and refugees make New Zealand their home
  • play our part in the global immigration system, together with our border partners, to keep Aotearoa New Zealand safe.

The integrated immigration system includes teams in branches across the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) who:

  • look after calls to the Immigration Contact Centre
  • carry out onshore investigations and compliance activity, and
  • provide policy advice to the Minister of Immigration.

Our people

We have around 900 immigration officers working on visa applications. In the 2022/23 financial year our immigration officers made decisions on more than 930,000 visa applications across all visa categories, (on average more than 77,000 each month).

In the 2022/23 financial year there were:

  • 14,223 working holiday extensions approved
  • 58,820 working holiday applications received, 92% of which were approved
  • over 548,725 visitor visa applications received, 80% of which were approved
  • more than 1.7 million NZeTA (New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority) requests received, 99% of which were approved
  • over 102,300 student applications received, 91,765 decided, with 80% approved
  • over 54,000 Job Check applications received, and more than 47,800 approved, which is equal to more than 229,900 positions
  • more than 6.4 million arrivals into New Zealand
  • over 12.5 million movements at the New Zealand border
  • more than 12,300 Recognised Seasonal Employer Limited Visas approved
  • over 27,000 accredited employer applications approved
  • more than 100,500 Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) applications received and around 92,000 AEWV applications approved.

For more AEWV statistics:

Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV)

Commonly requested AEWV statistics XLS 851KB

In addition to immigration officers, there are other staff in roles that provide vital direct support to the visa application process. These include:

  • support officers
  • verification officers
  • identity resolution analysts
  • medical assessors
  • technical advisors, and
  • immigration managers who provide administrative, technical and verification support and line management to our immigration officers.  

Frontline operations staff

Our frontline operations staff:

  • manage risk at the New Zealand border
  • assist travellers and manage risk at major transition airports
  • assess offshore threats to the immigration system in their bases overseas
  • support the arrival and settlement of quota refugees
  • work in the Pacific to help travel within the region
  • assess asylum and refugee status claims made by people already in New Zealand
  • engage regularly with relevant industry sectors and partners. 

Staff numbers

Over the past 5 years, staff numbers at INZ have increased for a number of reasons including:

  • closing offshore offices in 2021 and rebuilding the workforce in New Zealand (these roles were not included in the headcount until the roles were moved onshore)
  • managing an increased number of visa applications and workload with the re-opening of the New Zealand border post-pandemic
  • the introduction Accredited Employer Work Visa in July 2022
  • the introduction of the 2021 Resident Visa. This saw INZ needing to process 5 years’ worth of residence visas in 19 months.

To support the reopening of the border, INZ needed a plan to grow its visa processing workforce with the goal of rebuilding its pre-pandemic workforce and responding to post-pandemic demands in New Zealand. This led to the recruitment of more than 800 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees between July 2021 and April 2023, resulting in a net growth of 320 FTE employees.

INZ's Immigration Online platform

INZ’s business plans have focused on workforce growth, simplifying processes and developing the new Immigration Online platform to increase the efficiency and improve its services.

With the launch of the new Immigration Online platform in January 2022 it allowed:

  • for more automation of the visa processing administrative steps, and
  • immigration officers to use their time more efficiently.

However, until all services move to this platform, support is still required for the maintenance of INZ’s legacy systems.