COVID 19: What we’re doing to ensure continued services
We know this is a difficult time for our clients and employers.
Pacific Legal is working to minimise disruption. We’re confident we have the systems and plans in place to do so.
Our systems are portable
- We’re excellently placed to work remotely. All our systems including phone, email and database can be used remotely and we have contingency planning in place to ensure a smooth transition should this be required. Our Affinity database was recently upgraded. Providers have been on-site to test systems. Staff will be testing working remotely in stages. Our DTS phone system is web-based and will work remotely, as if the staff member was in the office. All our files are backed up to New Zealand Law Society standards (encrypted on our virtual server, with an in-country backup data centre).
Let’s talk…by phone and online
- We will be using phone skype, zoom or other videoing conferencing for meetings where ever possible. We are upgrading our skype and video conferencing facilities at the office. We will focus on zoom as our main form of conferencing. To book a video conference with staff you can ring (09 666 0440) or email us at email@example.com. Where ever possible we ask that documents can be emailed or uploaded through our online portal on our web site www.pacificlegal.co.nz.
Most documents can be sent electronically
- 80% of our applications can be made online. Some residence applications, citizenship applications and appeals are the main exceptions. We expect Immigration New Zealand will, in that case, relax the remaining categories of physical applications. There are already regulations in place to allow for this in a pandemic situation.
Drop-offs at the office still available at present
- At this stage, our office remains open and it is still best the best address for courier deliveries ( Level 5,130 Broadway Newmarket Auckland 1023) For urgent cases it is still possible to drop off documents by appointment. Please ring or email in advance. It is also possible to meet with our staff subject to the guidance below. This may change based on Ministry of Health Guidance.
If we need to meet face to face?
To protect our staff and yourselves during the current outbreak please also note:
- Until further notice face to face meetings will be reduced to essential meetings (e.g. to drop off documents or sign papers). We do not have a big volume of clients walking in so we will use our reception area for drop-offs and signing when there are no other clients. It has room for quick meetings.
- Face to face meetings where they need to occur will be limited to 15-30 minutes. No handshakes or other close contact, please. Tissues and hand sanitiser are at reception. We are practising social distancing of about 1 metre in our meetings.
- If you or an immediate family member, have symptoms (including general flu symptom), are in isolation or have tests pending, please do not come into our office but let us know and we will make other arrangements.
Our apologies for any inconvenience this causes and thank you for your understanding.
What if there’s a lockdown?
- Hopefully, a European style lockdown will be avoided. But should it occur, which we do not anticipate at this time, our back up courier address will be PO Box 9394 Newmarket Auckland 1149 which is serviced by courier post who can uplift to any address we give them. In that case please add a few working days for delivery. In a lockdown, we would expect nearly everything could be scanned. We are exploring drop off points if the outbreak should become more serious and affect courier services. Based on past experience in Christchurch we expect law firms may get some early exemption to access offices on a rostered basis e.g. to retrieve passports.
Will there be processing delays for onshore clients?
There are already delays for most of our clients. For residence applications, the government recently announced its priorities. The temporary closure of the Beijing Office may add to this. We have not been told of other delays specific to the COVID 19 outbreak. Obviously with a tight workforce if INZ staff are unwell that may well have an impact. You can check average processing times at this link. We will work with clients and INZ in urgent cases. We’ve achieved some great results in reducing delays where applications are “decision-ready.”
I’m offshore…how is my travel affected?
We will update clients regularly on travel restrictions through our website:
As of 18 March, Iran and China remained the only travel ban countries except for New Zealand Citizens or residents returning from those countries, who need to self-isolate for 14 days. All non-Pacific countries now require 14 days self-isolation when entering New Zealand. This is likely to change further and updates can be found at this link. Breach of isolation requirements may make travellers liable for deportation. If the above applies and you are travelling to New Zealand you need to have already made arrangements for the 14 day period before you re-enter New Zealand. Ministry of Health guidelines on self-isolation are at this link.
Offshore clients need to prepare for further delays as the Beijing office is currently closed. High risk applicants may be particularly affected.
We will send updates to clients on any major changes. However, as there are almost daily developments we encourage clients and employers to check the above websites.
If you have any further questions our friendly team will be happy to assist. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 09 666 0440.