07 July 2011

Immigration New Zealand faces legal action from visa overstayer

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Following criticism over how it treated a 26-year-old woman who came close to being deported, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) says it will strongly defend any attempt made to sue them.

New Zealand immigration

INZ says it will strongly defend itself against any legal action made over its treatment of a visa overstayer.

The woman, Charlaine Hodgson, initially migrated to New Zealand as a child in 1998. However, as Ms Hodgson's biological father could not be traced to sign a residency application, she did not gain residency like the rest of her family.

Following a visit to the police where she reported a brawl, Ms Hodgson was arrested as a New Zealand visa overstayer and held in police custody. She was then placed in a women's jail, where her lawyer, Evgeny Orlov, alleged that she was deprived of basic rights such as reading.

As a result, Mr Orlov said that it is likely Ms Hodgson will look to sue INZ over her treatment.

However, INZ head of immigration Nigel Bickle said any such action would be vigorously defended by INZ:

"INZ went to great lengths in Ms Hodgson's case to assist her in regularising her immigration status. Ms Hodgson repeatedly failed to respond to INZ's requests for information and, as a result, INZ was unable to assist her and closed its file in 2005," he said.

"Since that time, Ms Hodgson has made absolutely no attempt to contact INZ or to regularise her immigration status, instead choosing to remain in New Zealand unlawfully.

"INZ makes no apology for taking deportation action against persons who are unlawfully in New Zealand. Persons who choose to remain unlawfully in New Zealand can expect that deportation action will occur when they come to INZ's attention."

The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with New Zealand immigration applications.

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