26 March 2012

New Zealand visa rules update means migrants tread thinner ice

Immigration NZ has announced that migrants convicted of minor offences such as drink-driving and shop-lifting could put a migrant's New Zealand visa in jeopardy.

New Zealand visa

Changes to New Zealand visa policy could result in migrants failing to receive another visa

The change, which is effective immediately, grants Immigration NZ's officers the power to decline New Zealand visa applications from those migrants convicted of drink-driving, burglary, shop-lifting, disorderly behaviour and cannabis related charges.

"These instructions will include any applicant who has been convicted at any time of a criminal offence in New Zealand for which the court has the power to impose a term of imprisonment of at least three months," said Rob Stevens, a spokesman for Immigration NZ.

Mr Stevens said further changes would make it harder for visa applicants who leave the country before a deportation order can be served to reapply for a further visa.

"The change means that people who have been served, or would be served, a deportation liability notice as a result of a conviction but who leave [the country] either during the 28 day appeal or before the deportation order has been served will now be able to be declined a further visa."

Despite the seemingly tougher rules, Mr Stevens said immigration officers have been granted an element of discretion in their process, and can grant a character waiver in cases where a denial would be 'unduly harsh'.

The changes come as the government attempts to get to better grips with New Zealand immigration policy and ensure that any migrants entering the country meet certain standards and do not overstay their visas.

The government recently announced that it would begin fining airlines that do not carry out the desired amount of checks on passengers boarding flights to New Zealand while the rate of refused entry for passengers arriving in the country have risen to almost 1,200 in 2011.

The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent immigration consultancy that specialises in helping people apply for a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa.

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