Indonesian nationals require visas to enter New Zealand

  • John Delamare

Indonesian nationals travelling to New Zealand will now require visas and New Zealand is opening an Immigration Service office in Jakarta to manage the visa requirements.

The Minister of Immigration, Hon Tuariki Delamere, announced today that visas would now be required for Indonesian nationals due to the dramatic increase in asylum seeking over the last six months by Indonesian nationals visiting New Zealand on three-month visitor 's permits.

"There have been over 300 refugee applications received in the last four months alone from Indonesian nationals who have travelled to New Zealand and then claimed refugee status once they have arrived here. Fifty-four of those applications have been in the first two weeks of October alone. The next highest number of people seeking refugee status in the same two weeks in October, is eight people from Sri Lanka.

"This is a very serious trend. Indonesia now represents almost half of all refugee claims over the last four months. By suspending the visa-free status for Indonesian nationals we are better placed to manage the risk of people seeking refugee status once they arrive here," Mr Delamere said.

New Zealand has opened an Immigration office in Jakarta today to manage the visa applications.

Indonesian travel agencies are being contacted today, advising of the change in visa requirements. All airlines have also been advised and have been asked to carry a notice on their booking systems advising that Indonesian nationals will require a visa to enter New Zealand from today.

People who have already purchased tickets for travel prior to today's announcement will be processed at the border in New Zealand.

"We have a robust refugee policy in New Zealand. It is designed to assist people who are homeless and fleeing from persecution. Every year we take 750 refugees referred to us by the United Nations refugee organisation UNHCR. Those people need our assistance and their refugee status is recognised internationally. What is currently happening is that our visa free arrangement with Indonesia, established to facilitate tourism when the Asian economies were booming, is now being used by people abusing the system to gain entry to New Zealand, "Mr Delamere said.

" Our immigration policy is designed to attract people who can contribute to the economy and New Zealand society. There are many opportunities for people to take part in New Zealand life and culture as migrants without attempting to get in through the back door and cheat the system. Today's move will help to prevent this activity continuing," Mr Delamere said.