An interesting article relating to American R&B Singer Chris Brown has appeared in the New Zealand Herald. Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has indicated that he will not be able to enter New Zealand in order to perform in an planned show.
Now I must admit that I’m no Chris Brown or R&B fan myself (more of a Taylor Swift fan as far as US pop stars go), but personal tastes in music aside we thought it would be useful to examine the legal basis on which INZ can refuse Chris Brown a visa to enter New Zealand.
The New Zealand Herald articles quotes an INZ spokesperson as follows, “if Chris Brown has been excluded from another country he will be ineligible to be granted a visa to enter New Zealand unless given a special direction”. Indeed, this is correct. Section 15 of the Immigration Act 2009 states as follows and the relevant provision is in bolded text.
15 Certain convicted or deported persons not eligible for visa or entry permission to enter or be in New Zealand
(1) No visa or entry permission may be granted, and no visa waiver may apply, to any person—
(a) who, at any time (whether before or after the commencement of this section), has been convicted of an offence for which the person has been sentenced to imprisonment for a term of 5 years or more, or for an indeterminate period capable of running for 5 years or more; or
(b) who, at any time in the preceding 10 years (whether before or after the commencement of this section), has been convicted of an offence for which the person has been sentenced to imprisonment for a term of 12 months or more, or for an indeterminate period capable of running for 12 months or more; or
(c) who is subject to a period of prohibition on entry to New Zealand under section 179 or 180; or
(d) who at any time (whether before or after the commencement of this section) has been removed or deported from New Zealand under any enactment; or
(e) who is excluded from New Zealand under any enactment; or
(f) who has, at any time, been removed, excluded, or deported from another country.
(2) Paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (1) apply—
(a) whether the sentence is of immediate effect or is deferred or is suspended in whole or in part:
(b) where a person has been convicted of 2 or more offences on the same occasion or in the same proceedings, and any sentences of imprisonment imposed in respect of those offences are cumulative, as if the offender had been convicted of a single offence and sentenced for that offence to the total of the cumulative sentences:
(c) where a person has been convicted of 2 or more offences, and a single sentence has been imposed in respect of those offences, as if that sentence had been imposed in respect of a conviction for a single offence.
(3)Subsection (1)(d) does not apply to a person who—
(a) has been deported from New Zealand under section 158 of the Shipping and Seamen Act 1952; or
(b) was subject to a removal order under section 54 of the former Act, if the removal order has expired or been cancelled; or
(c) was deported under this Act but is not, or is no longer, subject to a period of prohibition on entry under section 179 or 180; or
(d) has been deported from New Zealand under section 20 of the Immigration Act 1964 on the grounds of being convicted of an offence against section 14(5) or 15(5) of that Act.
(4) This section is subject to section 17.
The article explains that Chris Brown was excluded from the United Kingdom on the basis that he was found guilty of an attack on his then girlfriend Rihanna in 2009. The UK Home Office stated “we reserve the right to refuse entry to the UK to anyone guilty of a serious criminal offence”.
As Chris Brown has been excluded from the United Kingdom, under s 15(1)(f) of the Immigration Act 2009, INZ can now refuse him a Visa for New Zealand. It is to be noted that section 15(1)(f) is subject to section 17, which provides for the grant of a “special direction” by the Minister of Immigration to allow a Visa to be granted anyway. But the grant of a special direction is in the “absolute discretion” of the Minister, meaning the Minister can make any decision they like and is not obliged to give any reasons for the decision. This may well mean bad luck for Mr. Brown. Indeed, US pop stars are not above New Zealand law (and rightly so).
It’s not often that legal problems overlap with the lives of pop stars but here on this occasion we have such a situation! Actually the situation is not an altogether uncommon sort of problem that more regular folk who approach us face as well, so if you find you have a situation that is similar, please get in touch so we can see how we can help.