Immigration NZ’s system was unable to cope with a record of over 10,000 applications for resident visas being made in a single day.

An INZ spokesperson told BusinessDesk 4,000 applications were lodged in the first three hours of Tuesday, breaking the previous record of 3,526 applications received in a 24-hour period.

By 4pm a total of 8,220 applications had been received with a further 8,588 applications currently in the system being completed by users

David Cooper of immigration advisory Malcolm Pacific said some users either received a “try again later” message or were booted from the system but his team were still managing to lodge applications.

The applications were for a special one-off resident visa for skilled migrants that was intended to clear a large backlog of applications that built up during the covid response.

The first phase of applications for an estimated 15,000 eligible applicants opened on Dec 1, with 150,000 thought to be eligible in phase two which began on Tuesday, March 1.

Last week, INZ opened up phase two early for up to 1,500 migrants a day to help alleviate Tuesday’s logjam.

On Thursday, INZ’s head of digital and programmes announced that phase two applications would be submitted using an enhanced immigration online system: “And we have been working hard to make sure the system can manage the large volume of applications expected under phase two.”

'Issue was identified and rectified'

INZ general manager Geoff Scott said the enhanced online platform was working “as expected”.

He said while the high volume resulted in some difficulty accessing the main INZ website the problem was quickly identified, and steps were taken to make sure people were able to apply.

“All systems have been stable and fully operational since the website loading issue was identified and rectified.”

INZ has also introduced a new processing policy to ensure those who didn’t apply on the first day would not be disadvantaged.

Processing will begin in April with applications prioritised according to the date that the principal applicant’s current visa expires.

The ACT party’s immigration spokesperson, James McDowall, accused INZ of failing to do basic planning.

“Previously, Immigration New Zealand took too long to process applications. Now its website crashes before they are even accepted. 

“It has yet again failed to do basic planning, with its efforts to manage today’s rollout of the 2021 Resident Visa resulting in a crashing website, and a ‘waiting room’ for applicants which is going nowhere.

“After two years of putting would-be immigrants, their families, foreign workers, employers, and basically anyone involved in crossing the New Zealand border through the wringer, Immigration New Zealand has managed to score another own goal,” said McDowall.

* This story has been updated.