Overstayer numbers drop to new low

  • Michael Woodhouse

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse has welcomed new figures showing New Zealand overstayer numbers are continuing to fall. 

“A new report estimates 13,151 overstayers are living in New Zealand. This is the lowest number this century, down 893 (6.3%) from last year, and 33 per cent lower than the 2005 estimate of nearly 20,000,” Mr Woodhouse says.

The estimated rate of overstaying (the number of overstayers compared with the number of temporary arrivals) is now very small by international standards at around 5 in 10,000 (0.05%).

“At the same time, removal and deportation costs have nearly halved from $3.00 million in 2005/06 to $1.53 million in 2012/13, which represents significant savings for the taxpayer.

“Better systems and more coordination between government agencies saw more than 1600 people denied boarding at the airport last year as they did not meet entry requirements – the most ever. Those being refused entry at the border has almost halved since 2005.

“Voluntary departures have significantly increased over this period, as the government continues to encourage overstayers to settle their affairs and pay their own costs for departure, or face sanctions and bans from returning.

“In short, we’re preventing more high-risk travellers arriving in New Zealand in the first place, and we’re seeing those who do overstay are much more likely to pay for their own departure.”

Mr Woodhouse says the figures are also a testament to the work being done by staff at Immigration New Zealand (INZ) and the Government’s focus on preventing and ensuring decisive action is taken against overstayers.

“People unlawfully in New Zealand are case-managed according to their circumstances, with those engaged in criminality being the highest priority for removal.

“It is important to point out that the majority of those who are in New Zealand unlawfully are not criminals and remain here beyond the term of their visas for a number of reasons such as employment and family.

“Providing better public services is a priority area for the Government. These results are an example of agencies working better and smarter, with less expense to the taxpayer.” 

Anyone with information about people unlawfully in New Zealand can contact Immigration New Zealand on 0508 55 88 55.

The overstayer factsheet can be found under the Immigration law/compliance heading at: www.immigration.govt.nz/migrant/general/generalinformation/media/