The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration (MFAI) will undertake the first series of Immigration training over the next three days, to familiarise and upskill Immigration staff on the new Immigration visa and permit system to be implemented in February next year.
The sessions will be run by Consultant Ms Fiona Colman in partnership with Principal Immigration Officer, Ms Kairangi Samuela. Ms Colman has been assisting the Immigration Act transition project over the last two years, funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Enterprise.
Draft regulations for the new Immigration visa and permit system are currently being completed with Crown Law and is expected to be submitted through to Cabinet shortly.
Ms Samuela advised that the new Immigration visa and permit system is part of the phasing in of provisions of the Immigration Act 2021, with the ultimate goal for this service being the online processing of permit applications through the MFAI website.
The regulations set clear guidelines on the visa and permit process, with persons applying for a visa to enter the country under set criteria, and permits being issued on arrival at the border. However, this provision does not apply to short-term visitors, who will continue to receive their permit on arrival into the Cook Islands as is currently being practiced.
“This is a major change to the way we do things, and staff training will be carried out over the next two months to ensure staff are fully trained and understand process,” said Ms Samuela. “Immigration has 10 office-based staff members, and for practical reasons, we have to close the office to ensure all staff are provided this training.”
The training sessions for Immigration staff will be held over half days from 9am to 12pm, from Wednesday, November 23 to Friday, November 25. The Immigration Office will be closed in the morning and reopen in the afternoon so that MFAI can continue to deliver services on these days.