Overstayers warned against scammers

Information circulates from time to time within the Pacific and other ethnic communities and through the news media about people’s (particularly overstayers) ability to “purchase” visas to remain in New Zealand.

This is incorrect.

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) would like to set out the facts to ensure that people are not disadvantaged by immigration scammers.

The Immigration Act 2009 is New Zealand’s law that deals with all immigration matters. Under this law, INZ is the only authority able to issue visas to visit or remain in New Zealand.

Immigration Advice

To give advice on immigration matters in New Zealand, a person must hold a licence or be exempt under the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007 from the requirement to hold a licence.

Lawyers and volunteers at community law centres and Citizens Advice Bureaux are among those who are exempt.

If in doubt, contact INZ for clarification and advice.

A list of licensed immigration advisers is available at www.iaa.govt.nz

In most cases, a person who is unlawfully in New Zealand is not legally able to apply for a temporary visa. However, the Immigration Act allows a person to be granted a visa in exceptional circumstances provided the person has not been served a Deportation Liability Notice or a Deportation Order.

If a person is in New Zealand unlawfully and wishes to regularise their status they can request a further visa under section 61 of the Immigration Act.

There will be cases where a person’s circumstances mean it is appropriate to grant a visitor, work or student visa under section 61.

If a person who is unlawfully in New Zealand is not granted a further visa under section 61 the person should depart voluntarily, as required by the Immigration Act. People who leave voluntarily can immediately re-apply offshore for a visa.

Their suitability for being granted a visa will depend on their individual circumstances.

Deportation

If a person in New Zealand unlawfully does not leave voluntarily they may become liable for a deportation order being served on them by INZ. This is a last resort and can result in the person being detained in police custody until they are deported.

People who are deported are banned from returning to New Zealand for up to five years. They are also required to refund the costs of their deportation if they did not pay at the time.

INZ understands that some people may be reluctant to approach it for fear of becoming liable for deportation.

It is in everybody’s interests that people receive the right advice. That means ensuring people are able to approach INZ without fear of becoming liable for deportation.

INZ has a clear message: Anyone in New Zealand on an expired visa must leave and return to their home country.

Anyone who wants confidential free advice about their immigration situation is urged to contact INZ.

People can do this remotely by contacting INZ on 0508-558855 or visit attend an immigration branch office to discuss their particular circumstances face-to-face with INZ and the options available to them.

Where appropriate, however, a person may be advised to depart voluntarily rather than risk becoming liable for deportation.

Information clinics are held from time to time to provide advice and information to communities and individuals in a confidential and safe environment.

An Immigration New Zealand Statement

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