New Zealand: Despite automation, citizenship applications taking longer

Canada not the only country to have processing and service standards challenges, along with effective implementation of automation:

The average time it takes to become a citizen is continuing to rise.

But Internal Affairs (DIA) said it had brought down a backlog of applications by 10,000, with 26,483 applications on hand this week, compared to 36,417 at the same time last year.

Average wait times for residents applying to become citizens have risen to 188 days, up from 27 days in 2017.

Decisions are quicker for applications where many decisions can be made via automated checks, DIA said in a statement.

“Our teams have been working hard to reduce the decision timeframes on citizenship applications,” said DIA general manager of services and access Julia Wootton.

“During 2022, we completely caught up on pending decisions for applications which could be assessed with the maximum number of automated checks. These types of applications are now being decided on within one to three months.

“The remaining applications we are working through require more intervention, but we are working to increase the number of these applications that can be processed with automated checks.”

The longest applications now take more than two years, compared to almost four years in 2016, when people had to make an appointment to see a citizenship officer. Some took longer because of automated checks failing or information being sourced from overseas, she said.

“Reducing the decision timeframes on citizenship applications continues to be a priority for us, and we’ve been able to do that by establishing automatic checks when possible. We are taking several other measures to further reduce decision timeframes, including more training, investing in technology changes to speed things up, and recruiting more staff.

“Based on current trends and the additional measures detailed above, we expect to continue to reduce average wait times and the number of applications awaiting allocation.”

Source: Despite automation, citizenship applications taking longer

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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