New Zealand computer error incorrectly approves hundreds for visa

14 May 2012


Hundreds of New Zealand visa applicants were accidentally approved for visas following a computer error last week. The Silver Fern Visa scheme is limited to 300 visas annually, but a computer glitch at Immigration New Zealand incorrectly accepted a further 330 visa applications after the quota had been filled.

"A technical fault occurred shortly after the Silver Fern opened which enabled people to submit applications after all the places had been filled," said Rob Stevens, Immigration New Zealand's service support general manager.

According to Stevens, roughly 4000 people were logged on to the website to apply for the visa; All the visas were used up less than half an hour after Immigration New Zealand started accepting applications. Then an email was sent to 630 applicants informing them that they had "successfully submitted'' their applications and that their payment had been accepted. Hours later a second email was sent out to correct the original email that said: "We regret to advise you of a technical fault ... and that your application was accepted in error.'' Applicants were told to apply again "when the quota reopens about this time next year''.

Stevens confirmed that the first 300 applications received would be processed, while the visa applications that were accidentally approved after the quota was filled would be cancelled and the money refunded.

"We have obtained the exact time that each payment was confirmed from the payment system, and used this to determine the first 300 applicants,'' Stevens said. "We are resolving the problem with our IT vendors to identify why it occurred and to prevent it from happening again.''

Since the Silver Fern Visa scheme was launched in 2010, the visa quota has been filled within 30 minutes of becoming available each year. Visa holders will be granted a nine month work visa allowing them to work for any employer in New Zealand. If they obtain skilled work, they can progress to the two-year Silver Fern Practical Experience work visa.

In order to be eligible for the visa you must:

be between the ages of 20 and 35 years old
apply from outside New Zealand
hold a recognised bachelors degree, higher qualification, or a recognised trade qualification with a minimum of two years of work experience in that trade
meet the English language requirements
have a minimum of NZ$4,200 available funds to meet your living costs while you are in New Zealand.
not have been previously granted a Silver Fern Job Search visa.


Once a Silver Fern Job Search Visa holder finds skilled employment, they can apply for a two year Silver Fern Practical Work Experience Visa. There will be no annual limit to the number of people who can apply under the Silver Fern Practical Experience visa but only visa holders of the Silver Fern Job Search Visa can apply; This in effect limits the number of people who can apply for the Silver Fern Practical Work Experience Visa.

Eligible applicants must:
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