Immigration law changes from October 1

  • John Delamare

The Minister of Immigration, Hon Tuariki Delamere, is today reminding New Zealanders, and people coming to New Zealand on temporary permits, that from 1 October 1999 a number of important changes to immigration procedures come into force.

Foremost among these are:

  • changes to Removal Procedures and appeals against Removal;
  • work permits only for Refugee Status claimants;
  • the introduction of "Limited Purpose Visas";
  • the introduction of "bonds";
  • a Variable Fee structure and;
  • a time limit for seeking a Judicial Review.

Mr Delamere said he wanted to draw public attention to the changes because of their significance.

"The changes are intended to provide greater certainty for temporary permit holders, migrants, refugees, and New Zealanders," he said.

At the same time, the Minister warned that some of the changes, particularly those made to streamline and improve removal procedures, could catch some people by surprise.

"From October 1st," the Minister said, "any person visiting New Zealand must either leave the country within 42 days of their permit expiring, or lodge an appeal with the Removal Review Authority detailing why they should be allowed to stay.

"Travellers to New Zealand will be advised of this obligation by notices at airports. The information will also be written on visas and permits, the arrival card, arrival stamps, application forms and leaflets.

"At the moment, anyone in New Zealand unlawfully must be located and served with a Removal Order. Once served with a Removal Order they have 42 days in which to lodge an appeal.

"From October 1st, anyone in New Zealand unlawfully who has not lodged an appeal, and who has not left New Zealand within 42 days, will be issued with a Removal Order and removed from the country at the first available opportunity," the Minister said.

"In other words, the Removal Order will no longer be a reminder to an overstayer that they have the right of appeal; it will be the formal notification that they are about to be removed."

For those people who have been in New Zealand unlawfully prior to October 1, there will be a transition period of one year during which they may

  • leave New Zealand voluntarily;
  • lodge an appeal to the Removal Review Authority (RRA) within the year if they are not subject to a Removal Order, or;
  • if they are served with a Removal Order, appeal to the RRA within 42 days.

Another important change relates to the temporary permits given to refugee claimants while their refugee status claims are determined.

From October 1, claimants issued with a temporary permit will not be allowed to apply for any other type of permit (such as a Residence Permit) unless their refugee claim is successful.

"Should their refugee status claim be declined, as happens in about 85% of cases, the claimant will be removed from New Zealand as soon as possible," Mr. Delamere said.

The Minister noted that other key changes from October 1 are

  • · the introduction of Limited Purpose Visas and Permits for strictly single purpose visits to New Zealand;
  • · the introduction of monetary bonds to allow people who might normally be refused entry to be granted a visa;
  • · a variable fee structure which allows the Immigration Service to charge different fees in different locations to more accurately reflect the costs involved; and
  • · a time limit of 3 months during which judicial reviews may be sought following an immigration decision.

The Minister said the new provisions of the Act should result in fewer instances of removals being delayed by court action, while preserving appeal rights where appropriate.

"I also hope the new measures ensure that people who do not comply with the immigration laws no longer gain an unfair advantage over those people who do," Mr Delamere said.

For further information: Ted Sheehan, Press Secretary to the Immigration Minister
04 471-9886 021 638-920

or: Ian Smith, New Zealand Immigration Service 04 915 4236 021 533-732

Information about the October 1st law changes is available on the NZ Immigration Internet website ( Information pamphlets are also available from Immigration Service branches throughout New Zealand.