Proposals to strengthen border security

Plans to strengthen border security by requiring most airline and cruise passengers to provide better information before leaving their home country have been released for consultation by Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway.

“Our tourism industry is in great health, leading to a huge increase in the number of people coming to New Zealand in recent years, so we need to manage our arrivals and our border security more effectively.

“To help with this the Government proposes to establish an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) for most international visitors who are granted a visa on arrival in New Zealand, for which public consultation opens today.

“Under an ETA applicants would provide similar information to the arrival card, including declarations of any criminal convictions. An ETA would last two years and cost about $9.

“Holding an ETA will help speed up the process at the border as a result of the extra information border staff will have. It also provides the mechanism for helping collect the proposed International Visitor Levy, which is being consulted in conjunction with the ETA.

“New Zealand citizens and residents will be exempt from an ETA, along with holders of valid New Zealand visas and Australian citizens. Most visitors and transit passengers from countries that do not require a visa to travel to New Zealand would need to hold an ETA, similar to the process already used by many other countries,” says Iain Lees-Galloway.

Mr Lees-Galloway also announced the opening of public consultation on a review of immigration fees and levies to ensure they reflect the actual costs of providing services and managing risks associated with immigration. The last review was carried out in 2015.

“This review aims to correct the over and under recovery in different visa categories that have emerged over time,” Mr Lees-Galloway says.

“The proposed overall increase in fees and levies will help fund a number of initiatives announced in this year’s Budget such as extra immigration staff at the border and increased funding for the Immigration Advisers Authority.

“The proposed increase in visa fees and levies is a small part of the total cost of visiting, working or studying in New Zealand.  New Zealand charges remain competitive compared to other countries such as Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada.”

Consultation on the Electronic Travel Authority and fees and levies proposals is open from 15 June to 15 July, along with consultation on the International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy.

Information on all three consultations can be found on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website: www.mbie.govt.nz/border-changes.

Final decisions are expected in September. If the proposed changes are adopted, any introduction of an ETA would happen in the second half of 2019 whereas fees and levy changes are expected to come into effect this November.