Parliament Passes Immigration Bill

  • John Delamare

The Immigration Amendment Act 1999 is now law.

Commenting on last night's passage of the Bill, Immigration Minister, Hon Tuariki Delamere said the new law will reinforce the firm but fair immigration policy of the Government.

'It balances the rights of the individual while reinforcing New Zealand's legitimate right to decide who is allowed to enter New Zealand and on what basis they remain here,' the Minister said.

One key feature of the new Act is the faster removal procedures for those who are in New Zealand unlawfully without a permit.

From 1 October 1999, visitors to New Zealand will have an obligation to leave the country by the time their permit expires.

'Under the new process,' Mr Delamere said, 'anyone who has not either appealed to the Removal Review Authority or left New Zealand within 42 days of their permit expiring may be removed from New Zealand immediately.

'This eliminates the current two-step requirement where a person must first be located and served with a Removal Order, then found again for the Removal Order to be executed.'

The new Act also tightens Judicial Review procedures.

Currently, judicial review of an Immigration Service decision may be sought at any time after the decision. This may be years after the decision under review was actually made. Under the Immigration Amendment Act 1999 there will be a time limit of 3 months in which people can seek judicial review of immigration decisions.

'As the Immigration Service does not usually remove a person who has applied to the High Court for a Judicial Review, the old system has often been used as a delaying tactic by those wanting to remain in New Zealand,' Mr Delamere said.

'This will no longer happen. The new process will ensure that individuals have the right to have their cases reviewed but will prevent old matters being dredged up for the sake of delay. In special cases, the court may extend the 3-month time limit.'

Another feature of the Act is the introduction of a Limited Purpose Visa and Limited Purpose Permit.

'In the past the Service has erred on the side of caution and declined visas in respect of persons who they suspected may have been tempted to remain in New Zealand beyond the expiry of their permit. The Limited Purpose Visa/Permit will allow the Immigration Service to manage that risk in a positive way,' the Minister said.

Special conditions will apply to the LPV/P.

  • The holder of a Limited Purpose Permit may not apply for a permit of a different type; and 
  • The holder may not lodge any appeal against the requirement for them to leave New Zealand.

The new Act also provides a statutory base for the determination of refugee status in accordance with New Zealand's obligations under the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. Up to now, refugee status decisions have been carried out under the authority of Cabinet directives.

Most of the Act takes effect from 1 October 1999, although some sections, such as those covering Judicial Review, will come into force immediately.

Mr Delamere paid tribute to his fellow MP's Joy Quigley, Hon Max Bradford, Tim Barnett, Lianne Dalziell and Patricia Schnauer for their invaluable contribution to the shaping and passage of the Bill.