Immigration New Zealand has issued more than 200 emergency visitor visas to family members of the Christchurch mosque shooting victims, it revealed today.
Since the March 15 attacks, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) says it has been "committed to trying to relieve some of the stress and anxiety" in the Christchurch Muslim community around immigration issues by providing immigration support and assistance to victims of the attacks and their families.
It's also held a number of community meetings, with the last one on Saturday, to discuss various immigration-related issues that have come up since the tragedy.
Many of the 51 Muslim worshippers murdered at two city mosques had family living overseas, or had been residing in New Zealand on various visas.
Assistant general manager Peter Elms says INZ staff in Christchurch have been available to meet with the victims and their families since March 15.
He confirmed that over the past four-and-a-half months, 216 emergency visitor visas were issued to family members of victims. A total of 102 of those issued with emergency visitor visas have been granted further visas - mainly extensions in time.
Another 64 applicants have been invited to apply for the Christchurch response permanent residence visa following successful Expressions of Interest (EOIs). Six permanent residence applications have been approved following successful EOIs, while 15 permanent residence applications from existing residence visa holders have been approved.
A group of licensed advisers and lawyers has also been established to provide specialist immigration advice and assist the victims and their families with the Christchurch Response (2019) residence visa application process free of charge.
Elms said around 100 people from the Muslim community attended Saturday's meeting.
"People are naturally interested in how they and their family members can apply under the new residence policy and what their options are if they are not eligible," he said.
"These meetings are an important part of the relationship we have with the Muslim community. People tell me how much value they get from the face-to-face engagement and it's equally valuable for us to listen to their circumstances and better understand what we can do to provide them with support."
Elms added that INZ is "committed to supporting the victims and their families throughout this difficult time" and will continue to prioritise the processing of their applications".
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