Success Story – SMC Group Appeals – Insurance Agent Staff Win Residence Appeals

Around this time last year, New Zealand entered into lockdown, and we all faced a challenging year due to the global pandemic of Covid-19. However, today we share a success story that has given hope to nine clients who thought their future in New Zealand was almost over. 

We have recently secured the approval of nine almost identical Skilled Migrant Category Residence (SMC) Appeals for staff at a major insurance company. All nine of our clients had their declined SMC residence applications turned around by the Immigration & Protection Tribunal (IPT) with a strict set of guidelines – for a correct reassessment.

Background

In August 2020, we have been approached by a group of employees who work for a major insurance company in New Zealand. Almost all of them work in the same large call centre, which has multiple New Zealand offices. Their SMC applications required them to get points for “skilled employment” as an Insurance Agent (code 611211 in the ANZSCO). Some of the applications were submitted two years ago. Interestingly, the immigration officers for three of those applications had recommended an approval of the SMC application in their initial assessment.

Then something changed. From mid-late 2019, Immigration NZ (INZ) decided to conduct further verifications of their employment, including phone interviews and a site visit in November 2019. From July 2020 onwards, INZ began sending decline letters to all those employees. They were long letters, and they were all the same – so much the same that we were able to file a single Appeal submission for all nine people.

INZ declined the residence applications because it was not satisfied that their employment substantially matched the ANZSCO description, including core tasks, of an Insurance Agent. It also was not satisfied that they qualified for points for skilled work experience. Without points for skilled employment or skilled work experience, their applications did not have enough points to be approved under the Skilled Migrant category.

The Slam Dunk Approach

The staff worked in a call centre environment, taking inbound enquiries, proposing insurance products, calculating premiums using the company’s bespoke system, and so on.  INZ accepted that the staff of this company carried out 5 of the 9 Core Tasks listed under the relevant ANZSCO Unit Group 6112. However, INZ concluded that they did not perform the other Tasks and, importantly, that the job was not sufficiently skilled to equate to “skilled employment” for the award of points.

We provided various arguments which criticised INZ’s approach to these cases. The IPT accepted almost all of the arguments we presented.  The IPT identified many defects in the decisions, including:

  • reliance upon a generic site visit (which INZ claimed not to rely upon) which did not address the specific work of the appellants concerned, and which influenced the outcome;
  • a failure to consider the job in the context of the working environment, and assumptions made about the job which coloured its conclusions about whether the employees performed certain Tasks.

There were two significant errors in INZ’s decision that the IPT knocked down, which we want to highlight here.

1.Use of Knowledge Management (“KM”) Systems

Core Task 4 of Unit Group 6112 states that Insurance Agents are involved in “calculating premiums and establishing a method of payment”. The insurance staff in this case used the employer’s IT applications to input data to generate the necessary premium calculations. In INZ’s view, having a pre-set calculation system limits the skill level required for calculating premium.  INZ concluded that they did not perform this task because it was done for them by the use of technology.  

The IPT pointed out that INZ’s own site visit report and other evidence on file showed that, in fact, employees needed to have, and to apply, knowledge of numerous products and processes to carry out this aspect of the work. The mere fact of using a computer system to help with that did not invalidate their performance of this task. It cited an earlier decision of JC (Skilled Migrant in which the IPT made two key points:

  • It is unrealistic to suggest that any employee will not be constrained to a greater or lesser extent by their employer’s technology choices. To hold otherwise would be to ignore the reality of most employment in a corporate environment; and
  • Company-specific KM systems are often inextricably intertwined with companies’ everyday operations and their employees’ roles. While in-house company systems might provide some assistance, such a situation should not necessarily mean that an applicant’s ability to perform the relevant core tasks is constrained because an applicant has to use their own expertise to use such systems.

2. Importing Skill Level into Substantial Match Assessment

A repeated refrain in INZ’s decisions for those employees was that their work did not “demonstrate any specialist, technical or management expertise or the level of skills or expertise required of an Insurance Agent.”  This view was supported by the fact that the entry requirements of the job did not specify prior insurance-related qualifications or work experience.  Such a view influenced the erroneous finding that the employees did not perform Core Task 4 of calculating premiums mentioned above.

INZ concluded that each of the Core Tasks associated with Insurance Agent did not require a level of skill equivalent to a diploma or three years’ prior experience. However, in order to work out if someone had “skilled employment”, two separate questions apply:

  1. Is their job a “substantial match” to the ANZSCO description for the listed occupation, including Core Tasks? – then
  2. Does the employee have the qualifications or experience expected for that occupation code?

INZ had applied the second ‘quals/experience’ criterion to the first “substantial match” assessment.  The IPT rejected INZ’s assessment of this by referring to the Residence Instructions which stipulate what qualifies for skilled employment, including the substantial match between the job and the corresponding ANZSCO description. The SMC Instructions also require that the applicant is “suitably qualified by training and/or experience for that occupation”, – meaning that they meet the indicative skill level for the ANZSCO occupation, such as having a degree or diploma.

The IPT confirmed in its decision that none of the requirements in the residence instructions state that an applicant must be undertaking work of a certain difficulty or with a minimum skill level. Also, the Residence Instructions do not specify that an applicant must be solely responsible for undertaking a task without limitations or have a certain level of seniority or responsibility to be considered to be undertaking the tasks. In the words of the IPT:

Immigration New Zealand imported a skill level requirement into its substantial match inquiry that it was not entitled to do. 

Previous SMC Group Appeal Decisions

This SMC Group Appeal cases shared striking similarities with another group of employees of another industry our firm worked for three years ago. We expected that, by having a significant group of visa decisions overturned by the IPT, it would have prompted INZ to guide their staff on how to assess future applications, which raised the same points of contention.   However, this was not the case. INZ sent a templated form of decisions letters which showed that some thought and planning had gone into seeking to defeat the insurance employees as a group in what was ultimately a doomed exercise. 

The role of the IPT is to guide decisionmakers at first instance, and that INZ should follow such guidance. In this instance, the failure to do so has led to a wasted effort by the applicants, INZ staff and members of the IPT.

What now?

The IPT determined that INZ’s assessment of whether the applicants performed an insurance agent’s occupation was flawed for multiple reasons and referred the applications back to INZ for reassessment. The IPT ordered INZ to reassess every one of our cases. At the time of writing, we have not had feedback from INZ about the Residence reassessments. This story may not be over, and INZ might try to find other ways to defeat the applications.

However, we have learned something about this industry’s dynamics. You may know someone in the same situation who needs help; let them contact us. 

Posted in Immigration Visas | 2 Comments

Common situations involving deportation liability

Liability for deportation under the Immigration Act 2009 can arise in a number of situations. If a person becomes liable for deportation, they can be served a deportation liability notice and then a deportation order. After a deportation order has been served on a person, deportation can be executed by;

  • taking the person into custody; and
  • escorting the person or arranging the person to be escorted to an airport or port; and
  • ensuring that the person is placed on board a craft and detained there until the person leaves New Zealand (see s 178 Immigration Act 2009)

Executing deportation may involve a person being arrested by the Police. It is not a pleasant experience.

If deported, a person is likely to face a period of prohibition on returning to New Zealand (see s 179 Immigration Act 2009). Being deported may also negatively affect a person’s ability to apply for visas to countries such as Australia, United Kingdom, United States and Canada. For example in New Zealand, a person deported at any time from any country is subject to s 15 exclusion, preventing them from being granted any visa at all unless granted a Special Direction by a senior immigration official or the Minister of Immigration. Being deported is therefore not something to be taken lightly.

Common situations where deportation liability arises

The most common situation we see at Laurent Law where a person becomes liable for deportation is where a person is in New Zealand unlawfully ie. they do not have a visa, they are an “overstayer” (see s 154 Immigration Act 2009). This situation usually arises when a person is in New Zealand on a Temporary Visa but the Temporary Visa expires. Provided the person has not yet been served a deportation order, they can file a request for a visa under s 61 Immigration Act 2009 in order to “regularise” their status ie. become lawfully in New Zealand again.

Laurent Law is frequently instructed by clients to assist with s 61 requests. These are not applications, they are requests and Immigration New Zealand s 61 officers have “absolute discretion” as to whether they will grant a Visa. Immigration officers do not have to give any reasons for their decision regarding a request under s 61. Laurent Law has enjoyed our fair share of successes and failures when it comes to s 61 requests, but over time we have developed a high level of experience with how s 61 requests can best be presented in order to maximise the chance of success. Please contact us if you require assistance with a s 61 request.

Can I be deported if I hold a Residence Visa?

The answer is yes, but you may be able to do something to prevent it from happening. The most common situation where a Residence Visa holder becomes liable for deportation is where the person receives a criminal conviction. We discuss this below.

What criminal convictions can make me liable for deportation if I hold a Residence Visa?

S 161 Immigration Act 2009 states that a residence class is liable for deportation if he or she is convicted, in New Zealand or elsewhere, –

(a) of an offence for which the court has the power to impose imprisonment for a term of 3 months or more if the offence was committed at any time—

(i) when the person was unlawfully in New Zealand; or

(ii) when the person held a temporary entry class visa; or

(iii) not later than 2 years after the person first held a residence class visa; or

(b) of an offence for which the court has the power to impose imprisonment for a term of 2 years or more, if the offence was committed not later than 5 years after the person first held a residence class visa; or

(c) of an offence and sentenced to imprisonment for a term of 5 years or more (or for an indeterminate period capable of running for 5 years or more), if the offence was committed not later than 10 years after the person first held a residence class visa; or

The classic situation we see is where a person receives a conviction for driving while over the breath or blood-alcohol level (“drink-driving”) (an offence under s 56 Land Transport Act 1998), not later than 2 years after the person first held a Residence Visa. Because a person convicted of this offence can be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 3 months, it falls under (a)(ii) above. The Residence Visa holder can become liable for deportation. The process is usually this:

1. INZ Resolutions Branch in Wellington will send a letter to the convicted person, stating that consideration is being given to serving them with a deportation liability notice and inviting comment on why service of the notice should not proceed. Clients often instruct Laurent Law to assist at this “inviting comment” stage. We assist people to explain their circumstances, to show that deportation from New Zealand would be a disproportionate outcome to the gravity of the criminal conviction.

2. Once comment is received, INZ Resolutions Branch will prepare the file and a briefing note for a senior immigration official – or in some cases the Minister or Associate Minister of Immigration – to review and decide whether to;

(a) issue a deportation liability notice; or

(b) issue a deportation liability notice but then cancel deportation liability; or

(c) issue a deportation liability notice but then suspend deportation for a specified period of time.

Where deportation liability is suspended, it is usually suspended for 3 or 5 years, subject to the person receiving no further criminal convictions during this period. If a person does receive a further criminal conviction, they can be served with a deportation liability notice again and the process at (1) above restarts.

Over time Laurent Law has successfully assisted with many situations involving Residence Visa holders becoming liable for deportation owing to receiving a drink driving conviction or something similar. Our experience indicates that if the “inviting comment” stage is properly handled and competent submissions are provided, there is a good chance it can result in deportation liability being cancelled or suspended. Please contact us if you receive a letter from INZ Resolution Branch inviting comment on whether you will be served a deportation liability notice.

Recent success story: more serious criminal conviction

One question arising, is what if a person is convicted of an offence which is more serious than drink-driving? Laurent Law recently assisted a Residence Visa holding client who had been convicted of aggravated robbery, an offence under s 235 Crimes Act 1961, the maximum term of imprisonment being 14 years. The outcome was for deportation liability to be suspended for 5 years. Given the seriousness of the conviction, this was probably the best possible outcome to reasonably expect.

Our client was a young man, a citizen of South Africa with family in New Zealand and Australia and no family to return to in South Africa. He had suffered some difficulties with alcohol consumption but was taking steps to remedy this through counselling. He was gainfully employed in New Zealand.

The significant concern for our client was being deported to South Africa, away from his family and support structures and where unemployment and crime rates are high. We pointed out in our detailed submissions that our client’s life prospects would be severely limited if he were forced to return to South Africa and argued that this “punishment” would be disproportionate to the gravity of the offence that he had committed.

It was very fortunate that the decision maker in our client’s case determined to suspend deportation liability. However, if our client receives another criminal conviction during the suspension period, all bets of a positive outcome would probably be off. The more repetitive a person’s actions demonstrated through their unwillingness to commit to good behaviour and the more serious the offence, the less likely the decision maker will cancel or suspend deportation liability.

If a deportation liability notice is served on a Residence Visa holder who is convicted of a criminal conviction, the person has 28 days to file an appeal to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal against liability for deportation. This involves demonstrating to the Tribunal that the person has exceptional humanitarian circumstances that make it unjust or unduly harsh for them to be deported and that it is not contrary to the public interest for the person to remain New Zealand – this is quite a difficult series of legal tests to meet.

Can I be deported if I am a New Zealand citizen?

With one exception mentioned below provided for in the Citizenship Act 1977, no. For our New Zealand citizen readers, you may be interested to know that no New Zealand citizen can become liable for deportation from New Zealand under the Immigration Act 2009 in any circumstances (s 13(3)(b) Immigration Act 2009). Therefore once you are granted citizenship, criminal offending cannot, under the law, result in you being deported from New Zealand. Any criminal convictions you obtain prior to an application made for New Zealand citizenship may however be taken into account in determining whether you will receive citizenship by grant.

There is one exception to this, see s 16 Citizenship Act 1977. This allows the Minister of Immigration to revoke a person’s New Zealand citizenship if aged 18 or over if the person has;

(a) acquired the nationality or citizenship of another country by any voluntary and formal act, and acted in a manner that is contrary to the interests of New Zealand; or

(b) voluntarily exercised any of the privileges or performed any of the duties of another nationality or citizenship possessed by him in a manner that is contrary to the interests of New Zealand.

For example, consider the example recently reported by the media of a female ISIS fighter with two young children detained in Turkey who was discovered to be a dual New Zealand and Australian citizen. The Australian Prime Minister revoked the woman’s Australian citizenship, which drew an angry response from New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who accused Australia of “exporting its problems”. Jacinda Ardern cited the welfare of the two young children in determining how New Zealand would respond, which sounds like having regard to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child which New Zealand is signatory to, a piece of international law which often arises in the Immigration Law context.

Posted in Immigration Visas | Leave a comment

Take Your Partners – the Visa Exemption Two-Step

If you are in a committed relationship with a New Zealander, you can get an exemption to be allowed to enter on a visa.  Is it easy?  It depends.  Not all partners are created equal.

EOI and ITA

The general rule is that the border is closed to all non-New Zealanders.  Most people need an exemption to be allowed to come in for a “critical purpose”.  Employers who want to bring in “critical workers” make an online request to do so.  For the rest, there is the Request for Travel process.  Technically, it is called an Expression of Interest (“EOI”), and it plays an important part in what follows.  Each EOI costs NZ$45 to put in.

The EOI is not a visa application.  The online form gives you 3000 letters or numbers to explain why you should be allowed in.  That’s not much space to tell the story of your relationship with your NZ life partner.  People flunk the EOI, sometimes multiple times, even though their case is genuine.

If your EOI is successful, you then get an Invitation to Apply (“ITA”) for a visa, usually a 6-month Visitor Visa, and that is when you put in the visa application itself.  Once you are in NZ, you can apply for a longer-term Partnership visa in the usual way.

So there is the two-step – the EOI, then the visa application itself.  Depending on your situation, they may not necessarily go in that order.

Visa Waiver Countries

Prior to the COVID-19 emergency, people from “visa waiver countries” could come in without having to apply for a visa first.  In recognition of their preferential status, and the perception that citizens of these countries are “low risk”, they can put in an EOI for the critical purpose of joining their partner.  A whole piece of Immigration Instructions has been written just for them.

It only takes a few days to get an answer on an EOI.  Things are fairly straightforward if they get the ITA.  They put in the visa application and include documents to prove that they have been living with their other half, and have been keeping in touch with them.  If that evidence is clear enough, then they get the visa.

Tricky Cases

However, EOI’s are rejected, or the visa application itself is declined.  Apart from failing to make a good enough case that the relationship is genuine, there are other reasons why this could happen:

  • A criminal record
  • Bad past immigration history with NZ or another country
  • Health issues

The problem with the EOI is that it doesn’t allow any supporting documents to be uploaded to back up what is said in the 3000-character explanation.

In such cases we have adopted an alternative approach, which is to file a full online Partnership visa application, and then afterwards lodge a Request for Travel EOI which refers back to the application.  Firstly, this lets you put documents before Immigration to prove the relationship and address other problems you may have.  Secondly, if the EOI is unsuccessful then you can still hang in there to get the result of the main application.  This takes considerably longer – several months, usually – but is more certain than entering the EOI lottery.

In fact, it seems like Immigration may favour this approach, although they don’t advertise it.  There is even a section of the COVID-19 Restricted Temporary Entry Instructions which states that a visa application can be assessed and granted without having filed an EOI, so long as the person is coming to NZ for a critical purpose – and joining one’s partner is of course one of those purposes.

Once the visa is granted – either through the EOI-visa two-step, or by an application on its own, then the person does not need to request an exemption at all.  This is because partners of New Zealanders who are coming in on a visa based on that relationship are a specific class of people who are allowed in without the exemption.

What About the Others?

We still haven’t talked about people who are not from visa-waiver countries.  There is no special policy for them, and the public information on the Immigration New Zealand website doesn’t encourage them to request an exemption.

On the EOI route, the only categories that are open to them are:

  • Humanitarian grounds because of “exceptional circumstances”.  This is a tough legal test to meet.  Most Humanitarian EOIs are rejected; or
  • Flying in together with the NZ partner.  This still needs them to convince Immigration that they are in a genuine and stable relationship, with all the uncertainty of outcome that we have mentioned above.

Otherwise, their fall-back strategy is to file a Partner visa application in the usual way.  Again, this ultimately delivers a more certain outcome than any of the others, although it takes longer.

It has been widely publicised that the processing of visa applications for offshore people has been put on hold.  Partner visas are one of the exceptions, so that in that sense it is still business as usual.  Inevitably, though, it will take longer than usual to get a decision.  Immigration New Zealand’s advertised processing time for overseas partner visas is 8 months.  Our experience, however, is that a thoroughly prepared application, with strong evidence of the relationship, can be approved considerably faster.  This is where professional assistance can add real value for applicants.

The Rip-Off?

The online Request for Travel EOI doesn’t stop partners who are not eligible from making the request anyway.  In fact, it is possible to submit the form and pay the fee as the Partner of a New Zealander, no matter what country they are from.  It is just that all those EOIs will be declined for the simple reason that there is no Partner exemption for those people.

For example, someone from a non-visa-waiver country could successfully get invited to apply for a visa if they are travelling here with the NZ partner.  But if they are not, they can still put in the EOI and pay the fee without any hope of being successful.

In my view this is seriously misleading.  If it were not for the fact that INZ has been struggling for months to adapt to the current situation, it could be called dishonest.  It is true that the government website tries to make it clear that the border is essentially shut.  However, the interim entry policies that have been put in place, and the chops and changes that go on almost weekly, make it confusing enough for those of us in the industry, let alone for others who don’t work in this area every day.

The reality is that the online systems that have been put in place to cover the COVID-19 exceptions have been thrown together in good faith, but in a hurry.  The programming logic behind the online EOI needs to be tidied up now, in order to stop many people from making pointless Requests for Travel which will never be approved.

Posted in Immigration Problems, Immigration Visas | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Planning to hire a migrant? Now is the time to think ahead and learn more about Immigration NZ proposed changes in mid-2021

On 17 September 2019, the government announced changes to work visas to be gradually implemented from October 2019 to mid-2021. The proposed changes will apply to both migrant workers and employers supporting work visa applications.

The government first introduced the proposal in its Consultation Discussion paper released in December 2018. The government consulted on a number of changes to the employer-assisted temporary work visa. According to the government press release on 17 September 2019, there was a total of 947 submissions received from the public during consultations.   Following this, the government released one of two cabinet papers to seek final agreement on the new approach to the employer-assisted visas and the proposed changes to be published on 7 October 2019.

The changes are said to decrease migrant exploitation and ensure New Zealanders are employed in preference to migrants.  Briefly, some of what has already come into effect were:

  • From 7 October 2019, applicants applying for an (Accredited Employer) Work Visa an accredited employer must earn a minimum base salary of $79,560 per annum (or $38.25 per hour);
  • From July 2020, we saw the removal of ANZSCO that Immigration NZ used to determine the job’s skill level for Essential Skills Work Visas. Instead, a job paid at above the current median wage (NZ$25.50) is “higher skilled”, while a wage below the median is “lower skilled”.

After mid-2021, the government will be introducing a new visa application system that requires employers to become accredited if they wish to hire a migrant worker.

There will be a new temporary work visa that would essentially replace the existing 6 work visas:

  • Essential Skills Work Visa
  • Essential Skills Work Visa — approved in principle
  • Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa
  • Long Term Skill Shortage List Work Visa
  • Silver Fern Job Search Visa (closed 7 October 2019)
  • Silver Fern Practical Experience Visa.

To become an Accredited Employer

The new visa changes have not been implemented yet; however; we will discuss how we expect the policy changes will be shaped, and how this new framework may impact your business.

Currently, becoming an accredited employer is a complex process that requires the employer to demonstrate they are in a sound financial position, have good human resource practices, good work practices and are committed to training and employing New Zealanders. Once the employer successfully secures an accreditation status, they can support applicants applying for a Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa. The accredited employer must pay the applicant a base salary of $79,560 per annum (or $38.25 per hour for a 40-hour week).

The changes are described as being employer-focused to manage migration exploitation and labour market risks.  There will be three checks or “gates” to pass before an employer can hire a migrant. These are:

1) The Employer Gate

Immigration decides whether employers are suitable to employ migrant workers. There will be two main accreditation levels:

  • standard accreditation — for employers who want to hire 5 or fewer migrant workers, and
  • high-volume accreditation — for employers who want to hire 6 or more migrant workers.

2) The Job Gate

The job on offer is reviewed to see if it pays the market rate, the terms and conditions comply with employment laws, and the employer has done a labour market test if they need to do so.

3) The Migrant Worker Gate

The migrant applies for the Work Visa. They must show that they meet Immigration NZ’s character and health requirements, and have the skills to do the job. If the first 2 gates are passed, this ought to be a straightforward process, so that the main burden of the application process is shifted squarely onto the employer.

Are you intending to hire migrant workers in the future?

The new process will place pressure on employers to look at what they are doing to train New Zealanders. Although we do not know the mechanics of the new accreditation process at this stage, there is reasonable information on what to expect from the documents released for consultation and the information provided by Immigration NZ.

The employer would still need to comply with all immigration and employment laws, have good workplace policies in place, and make genuine efforts to train and recruit New Zealand citizens/residents. Although this looks like the existing Accredited Employer scenario, it is likely that the application process will not be quite as onerous. One reason for this is that it is hard to see how Immigration NZ could handle the sheer number of “accreditation” applications required to pass the first gate. With 20,000 plus businesses lining up to get their ticket, the system will need to be much more streamlined than it is already, or risk grinding to an embarrassing halt before it has even started.

If you intend to hire migrant workers in the future, now is the time to think ahead and talk to us. We can provide advice on how to prepare your business to become an accredited employer once these changes roll out. We can also provide support to ensure your systems and processes are compliant with Immigration and employment laws.  

If you are not an accredited employer, you can also talk to us on how to become accredited before these changes roll out.

Posted in Immigration Visas | Leave a comment

The Dangers of Faking it in a Visa Application

Do you have have something you do not want INZ to know about, for example a criminal conviction or a health condition? If so, you may feel tempted not to tell INZ about this, or to be dishonest when answering a question on an INZ application form. You may feel that if INZ does not know about something that would negatively affect your Visa application, this would be to your advantage.

If you are considering being dishonest with INZ, you must think again. There is a significant risk INZ will find out you have been dishonest and if they do, the consequences will be serious. INZ usually requires Visa applicants to provide Police Certificates from countries of citizenship and which they have lived in, and also to complete a formal Medical examination through an approved Doctor, which means that if you do have a criminal conviction or health condition, INZ will probably find out.

If you have a criminal conviction or a health condition that you are concerned may affect your Visa application, it is better to seek professional advice to see how this can be managed. In many cases, an Immigration Adviser or Lawyer can provide a solution to your problem which sees your Visa approved and which does not involve any form of dishonesty. Remember, Immigration Advisers are bound by the Licensed Immigration Advisers Code of Conduct, and Lawyers by rules of the New Zealand Law Society, which require them to keep anything you tell them confidential.

What happens if I am dishonest with Immigration New Zealand when applying for a Visa?

To put it briefly, your Visa application may be declined and you may never be approved a Visa for New Zealand again.

If you are applying for a Temporary Visa and INZ determines that you have provided false or misleading information, or have withheld material information, at any time when applying for a Visa, a character waiver assessment will be carried out. An immigration officer is required to consider the following [italics added]:

  • the significance of the false, misleading or forged information provided, or information withheld, and whether the applicant is able to supply a reasonable and credible explanation or other evidence indicating that in supplying or withholding such information they did not intend to deceive INZ;
  • whether the applicant’s reason for travel to New Zealand, and any surrounding circumstances, are compelling enough to justify making an exception to the character requirement, taking into account the public interest; and
  • record reasons for deciding whether to waive or decline to waive the good character requirements; and
  • if the immigration officer decides to decline the application, they raise an ‘Alert’ against the applicant on the INZ computer system

If you are applying for a Residence Visa and INZ determines that you have provided false or misleading information, or have withheld material information, at any time when applying for a Visa, a character waiver assessment will also be carried out. An immigration officer is required to consider the following;

  • the significance of the false, misleading or forged information provided, or information withheld, and whether the applicant is able to supply a reasonable and credible explanation or other evidence indicating that in supplying or withholding such information they did not intend to deceive INZ;
  • how long ago the relevant event occurred;
  • whether the applicant has any immediate family lawfully and permanently in New Zealand;
  • whether the applicant has some strong emotional or physical tie to New Zealand;
  • whether the applicant’s potential contribution to New Zealand will be significant.

In our experience, if INZ establishes that an applicant has lied to them and there is no good reason for this, it is nearly certain that character waiver will be refused and the application declined.

If INZ approves your Residence application, but later discovers you provided false and misleading information or withheld material information as part of the Residence application, you can become liable for deportation under section 158 of the Immigration Act 2009. You can appeal your deportation liability either on the facts (i.e., INZ has its facts wrong) or on humanitarian grounds. But if the dishonesty is clearly established it is more likely that such appeals would fail – your deportation liability would probably be confirmed, a deportation order issued and you would be required to leave New Zealand with no chance of ever returning. Similar deportation liability exists under s 157 of the Immigration Act 2009 if your Temporary Visa is approved, but it is later discovered you provided false and misleading information or withheld material information as part of your Temporary Visa application.

Frequent mistakes

It is relevant to note that INZ may consider you have been false and misleading by simply not accurately answering a Yes/No question on an application form. Here at Laurent Law we have seen such situations, including where the applicant has relied on an Immigration Adviser or Lawyer to select the right answer for them. It is therefore very important to be accurate and upfront when answering questions on INZ application forms and to seek professional advice if you are unsure how to answer.

We have also seen situations where an applicant has been given false information in one Visa application, then told the truth in a later application, but still had that later application declined because of their earlier dishonesty. It is an example of how dishonesty at one stage of the process can come back to haunt an applicant later down the track.

Managing the problem

We recommend you seek professional help if you have a criminal conviction or a health condition which you are concerned may affect your Visa application. An experienced Adviser or Lawyer will let you know what is and is not possible. It may be that the criminal conviction or health condition is so bad that you cannot be approved a Visa. For example, if you have a murder conviction or present some sort of security threat, it is very unlikely you will get a Visa.

In some cases the character or health issue may be minor and therefore does not trigger any concern as long as it is properly declared – e.g., we usually advise applicants to declare any speeding or parking tickets they have.

Some examples of common types of criminal matters for which securing a character waiver may be possible include:

  • drink driving convictions;
  • low-end assault convictions;

Some examples of common types of health conditions for which securing a medical waiver may be possible include;

  • diabetes;
  • obesity.

For more information regarding Character and Medical waivers, see Simon Laurent’s video blogs here. At Laurent Law we regularly assist people with character and medical waivers. Please contact us if you think we can help.

Posted in Citizenship, Immigration Appeals, Immigration Industry, Immigration Problems, Immigration Visas, Practice of Law | Leave a comment

Success Story: Love prevails

Seven months ago, a young couple approached us from overseas after their hopes of living together in NZ were almost crushed. Immigration NZ’s assumptions and failure to keep an open mind when assessing the partnership application resulted in them making a lot of sacrifices that affected them financially and emotionally since 2017.

Background

The background was complex, but we will provide you with a brief overview.

Like many migrants, our client came to New Zealand to pursue his studies and apply for subsequent work visas that will ultimately provide him with a pathway to Residence. Unfortunately, he and his ex-partner at the time could not secure employment related to their qualifications. His ex-partner applied for further studies, and our client secured a partnership work visa through her. A year later, that relationship ceased.

During this time, our client had already been friends with his current wife, a NZ citizen whom he met through his employment. They shared similar interests in travel and their love for dogs. Both had failed relationships, so their bond with each other grew quickly. He moved into a room in her flat, and they started dating not long after that. He applied for an Essential Skills Work Visa based on his job because he could not remain on his previous partnership visa, and wanted to get a visa in his own right. 

Failed Applications

Two months later, that application was declined. Immigration NZ accused the couple of not being in a genuine and credible relationship.  This was simply because the relationship appeared to have moved so quickly – the partnership application was seen just as an attempt to remain in New Zealand.

Our client and his current wife were devastated at the time, as they just moved to their own place and decided to make a fresh start and build a future together. He proposed to her a week after his visa was declined. It was something he had been planning to do for some time, as they had already known each other for years. They were ready to commit to one another, as they are not the type of people that like to “date around”. They valued loyalty and commitment.

Sure, this kind of scenario could raise an alarm with Immigration NZ about the genuineness of the relationship. However, Immigration NZ must apply the principles of fairness and natural justice when deciding an application. They are required to keep an open mind towards all relevant information and evidence, and distinguish fact from opinion or assumption.

Immigration NZ had failed to consider many factors when they were assessing this young couple’s partnership application. For example, the cultural background of our client and his NZ partner, their previous relationship history and the evidence provided with the application. Our client comes from a society that respects commitment and dedication. Hence, moving quickly in a relationship is something normal, especially when the couple already knows each other and have mutual interests. They do not like to move around from one partner to another or take years until they decide to marry. 

They applied for reconsideration of the declined work visa application, and it was also declined. Our client was left with no option but to leave New Zealand. It was a devastating moment for the NZ partner trying to sort out her affairs such as where they were going to put their pets, what she would do to relocate etc. Eventually, she left NZ to live with our client offshore for 3 months.

Going Overseas

During this visit they got married, and the New Zealand partner met his extended family and explored his country.  After almost a year and a half into their relationship, they applied for another partnership visa. Immigration NZ interviewed the couple, and no concerns were raised from the interview.  Despite the time they had spent together and their successful interview, Immigration NZ declined their partnership application again because of how soon they entered into their relationship in the first place. It was still not satisfied that the couple entered into the relationship with the intention to last. It is unfortunate to see that such a subjective assumption overrode the fact that they were in a loving and committed relationship. Their marriage was publicly acknowledged and supported by family and friends, and they had sufficient evidence of living together.

Success At Last

The NZ partner decided to live offshore again with her husband.  It meant she had to leave her job, sell her car, leave her pets with family and friends. At this point, we assisted the couple with their last partnership visa application. After living together for nine months, a partnership application was submitted in May 2020 and finally approved in October 2020.

The approval was a relief to the couple after a long journey and a battle to convince Immigration NZ that their relationship was genuine, credible, and it was not out of convenience. However, until they reached this point, the NZ partner had no income for a year, accumulated debts and lost one of their pets in New Zealand. Notwithstanding the emotional stress she went through as a Kiwi living away from her home country, her family and adjusting to a completely different society. This was all because of Immigration NZ’s improper assumptions and for failing to look into the full picture of the couple’s relationship.

Moral of the Story

The moral of the story is that Immigration NZ can make mistakes and decline a partnership application more than once. If you find yourself in a similar situation, don’t give up, and it is never too late to seek professional help in representing your case to Immigration NZ. 

Partnership cases could seem straight forward; however, they are not simple. Not all relationships are the classic scenarios that exist in the western world or portrayed in the movies. People’s circumstances are different, and our client is a perfect example of this. A successful partnership case needs to be as clear cut as possible. Critically, by working alongside you, we can tell your story in a way that is compelling and persuasive to avoid lengthy battles with Immigration NZ.

Posted in Immigration Appeals, Immigration Industry, Immigration Problems, Immigration Visas, Practice of Law | Leave a comment

Can I give up (renounce) my New Zealand citizenship?

We have been approached by a few clients recently who have expressed a wish to give up (“renounce”) their New Zealand citizenship.

Why would someone want to renounce their New Zealand citizenship?

Wanting to renounce New Zealand citizenship can seem counter-intuitive, given most people (and certainly the staff here at Laurent Law) spend so much time and effort trying to acquire legal rights for people to be in New Zealand.

It typically arises where a person is a citizen of both New Zealand and another country, but that other country does not allow nationality of more than one country (“dual citizenship”). New Zealand allows dual citizenship, but many countries do not. This can force a choice of which citizenship to keep and which to renounce. The choice can be influenced by the legal rights a person retains in New Zealand and the other country, after giving up the nationality of either country.

For example, someone may retain very limited legal rights in their other country (which might be where they were born) if they do not keep citizenship of that other country.

What happens if I renounce my New Zealand citizenship?

Section 75 of New Zealand’s Immigration Act 2009 specifically deals with what happens when someone renounces their New Zealand citizenship. This states;

The person is deemed, from the date of renouncing, his of her citizenship, to hold a resident Visa;

(a) permitting the person to stay in New Zealand; and

(b) subject to any conditions specific in residence instructions certified for the purpose of this section at the time the person renounced of was deprived of his or her citizenship.

Section 75 is not clear whether someone who gives up citizenship gets a Permanent Residence or Residence Visa – see here a earlier blog describing the differences between these types of Residence Visas. However, they do at least end up with a Residence Visa, which allows them to remain in New Zealand indefinitely, work, study and have access to services such as publicly funded healthcare and education.

A person must be a New Zealand citizen in order to hold a New Zealand passport. This means that if someone renounces New Zealand citizenship in favour of keeping the citizenship of another country, they will need to travel on the passport of that other country with a New Zealand Residence Visa endorsed. There can be some desirable features of holding a New Zealand passport as described in the article here. For example, it gives “visa free” access to visit 185 countries – the 7th highest in the world.

What are some countries that do not allow dual citizenship and what are some countries that do?

Countries that do not allow dual citizenship include:

  • It appears that under Chinese law, if a person obtains citizenship of a country other than China, they automatically lose their Chinese citizenship
  • In Singapore, a person can maintain dual citizenship until the age of 21, after which they must make a decision on which nationality to keep
  • In Indonesia, someone can have dual citizenship until the age of 18, after which they must choose which to keep
  • Japan
  • Malaysia
  • India

Countries that do allow dual citizenship include:

  • New Zealand
  • Australia
  • United States
  • Canada
  • United Kingdom
  • France
  • Denmark
  • Sweden
  • Finland
  • The Philippines

How do I renounce my New Zealand citizenship?

Section 15 (1) of New Zealand’s Citizenship Act 1977 states:

A New Zealand citizen who has attained the age of 18 years and is of full capacity and who is recognised by the law of another country as a citizen of that country may, at any time, make a declaration of renunciation of his New Zealand citizenship in the prescribed manner.

A person is of “full capacity” if they are not of unsound mind, e.g.. suffering from some form of mental illness or impediment which prevents them from making informed decisions.

Making a declaration in the “prescribed manner” refers to the process set down by the New Zealand Citizenship Office, which is part of the Department of Internal Affairs (“DIA”). The DIA is separate to Immigration New Zealand (“INZ”) which is part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

The information here describes the process for renouncing New Zealand citizenship. The Citizenship Office must be contacted to provide the required application and declaration forms. The applicant must provide their New Zealand passport, New Zealand citizenship certificate if they have one, and pay a fee of NZD$398.60. Someone renouncing citizenship must be at least 18 years of age.

Importantly, they must also provide proof that they are a citizen of another country. This requirement follows from New Zealand’s obligations and commitments under international law, such as the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, the purpose of which is to avoid situations where a person is not a citizen of any country.

The applicant must also provide a statement from INZ as to what their immigration status will be after they renounce New Zealand citizenship. As described above, they are normally entitled to a Resident Visa per s 75 of the Immigration Act 2009.

Section 15(3) of the Citizenship Act 1977 states that a request to renounce New Zealand citizenship can be declined if:

  • the person renouncing their citizenship is resident in New Zealand, or
  • a state of war exists between New Zealand and any other country.

While New Zealand has not been at war with another country for many years, nevertheless the power to decline renunciation of New Zealand citizenship for this reason remains.

The only way to reacquire New Zealand citizenship, once it has been renounced, is to meet the requirements for Citizenship by Grant, discussed in an earlier blog. This includes holding Residence status for at least 5 years before the application can be made. Therefore someone should be certain, before giving up New Zealand citizenship, that doing so fits their circumstances and is really what they want to do.

The order of tasks for someone wanting to renounce New Zealand citizenship would be:

  1. Check and confirm that they hold citizenship of another country;
  2. Get written confirmation from INZ what visa they will get after they lose New Zealand citizenship;
  3. Obtain the required forms, complete and provide these to the Citizenship Office.

Usually the process of renouncing New Zealand citizenship is something a person can manage on their own. However Laurent Law is happy to provide advice or guidance on the process if necessary. Please contact us if assistance is required.

Posted in Citizenship, Immigration Appeals, Immigration Industry, Immigration Problems, Immigration Visas, Practice of Law | Leave a comment

Opportunity Knocks – But Is New Zealand Answering?

The COVID-19 pandemic is creating economic mayhem internationally, and New Zealand is not immune. At the same time, the international crisis has made this country an increasingly desirable destination – especially to wealthy foreign investors. But there is real danger that lack of administrative resources and attention will deny New Zealand the chance to take full advantage of a much-needed inflow of cash.

Do We Need the Investors?

A couple of months ago I was one of those who highlighted a surge in interest in NZ by wealthy migrants, especially from the USA. More recently, Business NZ has argued that a specific border exemption for high-net-worth investors is needed, in order to encourage the funds to flow into the local economy. It has been suggested that some $2 billion in potential investment funds is tied up in Investor Visa applications which are still in process. As you will see, this is not far wrong.

The need for economic stimulus is clear, with New Zealand heading into a very significant recession. Some have argued that allowing wealthy foreign migrants to buy their way in does not actually deliver the sorts of benefits that we might want, such as boosting industries that create jobs. Investors are characterised as having put their money into bonds or passive property, rather than providing capital to be used by local companies.

That last comment is derived from an article from Stuff in April 2020. It was partially based on some MBIE research from 2013-2014. However, there are a couple of reasons to be sceptical about this view. The first is that Investor policy settings were changed in 2017 to create incentives for “growth investments” – that is, almost anything other than bonds and charities. It’s not clear that this has brought about a seismic change in investor behaviour, but most clients we have dealt with have eyed the benefits of growth investments with interest. These include relaxation of the “time in NZ” requirements and a reduction of the amount an Investor 2 client has to tie up (which is, by default, NZ$3 million for 4 years).

Perhaps more crucially, an MBIE source has observed to me that their own tracking of investor outcomes indicates that those who secure Investor Residence will, on average, end up bringing at least 3 times more into the country than they originally needed to in order to secure a bare Resident Visa.

Thirdly, as argued by a colleague in a report from August 2020, it’s not just the quantity, but also the quality of interested investors, that is so striking about the wave of applicants for Residence. We ourselves have been approached by clients for whom the $10 million Investor 1 requirement is small change. Furthermore – and this applies to those from the US in particular – they include an increasing number of capable entrepreneurs whose interest is in new ventures and new technology. The small, nimble New Zealand market has for some time been the test-bed for leading edge developments. There may be real attraction in funding and supporting local businesses which are taking leading roles in areas such as biotech.

However, creating a border exemption for investors is probably not addressing the core issue. As I have explained in a vlog published during the first Level 4 Lockdown, the investor process takes years, rather than months. An applicant who is issued an Approval in Principle is given 12 months to transfer and invest their funds, and that period can be extended. This large window is provided so that people can liquidate their assets, bring them into the New Zealand jurisdiction, and settle upon where they want to place them. They are likely to have personal affairs and assets that they need to settle before making that move.

If we consider that current border restrictions are likely to remain in place for perhaps another year, but probably not for more than 3 years, getting a border exemption may not be so critical for those who wish to travel down the Investor Residence route now.

The Numbers

More important, in my view, is directing more resources to processing the large number of Investor applications currently with Immigration New Zealand’s Migrant Investor Team. For a time, cases filed by offshore applicants were not being processed at all owing to a blanket approach to most visa types. However, processing has recently restarted. Still, as with many visa categories, this has inevitably built up a backlog.

Since the end of April 2020, the number of Investor applications “on hand” has increased from 918 to 1215, or 32%. The Investor 1 list has grown in the same period from 228 to 444, or 95%. If we assume a $10 million investment from each applicant, and only 50% are finally approved, then $2.2 billion of potential investment is locked up in an office in Wellington. That is no fault of the visa officers. There just may not be enough of them.

There could be ideological and social resistance to inviting more rich people into New Zealand. We just have to get over it. I have had multiple enquiries from local business owners , in manufacturing in particular, who are looking for capital from offshore. But they also want to tap into the expertise of active investors who have made their money from growing similar businesses; and who often are very keen to share their knowledge and get involved with a similar Kiwi enterprise.

Encouraging overseas investment has been important to this country for a long time. It is even more vital now, in order for New Zealand not just to survive, but to thrive in a world facing some dark days ahead.

Posted in Business, Citizenship, Immigration Appeals, Immigration Industry, Immigration Problems, Immigration Visas | Leave a comment

Success Story: Avoiding Deportation and Family Separation

The year 2020 has been the most challenging in decades. With all the covid-19 issues of 2020, I believe there is nothing better to share than a success story of uniting a couple after Immigration NZ (“INZ”) almost tore the family apart.

A kiwi mother of two children approached us for assistance after INZ declined her husband’s resident visa and partnership work visa applications on character grounds. As a result, the husband became unlawful, facing deportation and at risk of being separated from his wife and children.

Background

The background was complex, but we will provide you with a brief overview.

The husband is an Afghani citizen who lived in Pakistan and arrived in New Zealand on a Visitor Visa in December 2015 to marry his now New Zealand wife. They married in January 2016, and they have since had two New Zealand-citizen daughters. The elder daughter is two years of age, and the younger daughter is aged 11 months.

In October 2018, he made his application for residence, which was supported by his wife. He declared that he had no convictions. INZ received clear police certificates from New Zealand and Afghanistan. However, he was required to produce a police certificate from Pakistan as he lived there for several years. He asked a family friend to get the police certificate from Pakistan. INZ made enquiries with the police station said to have issued the police certificate. The station advised INZ that the document was a forgery.

INZ said that because he produced a forged document, he would not normally be granted a residence class visa unless granted a Character Waiver. INZ considered it more likely than not that he had provided a forged police certificate. INZ did not believe the husband’s explanation that he did not know how to obtain a police certificate, because he was given information on how to obtain one.

In a situation like this, even if he did not know that the police certificate was fraudulent, he is responsible for any documents provided to INZ. 

In the Character Waiver request, INZ were asked to weigh the fact that the wife and the children were lawfully residing in New Zealand. The husband had strong ties to New Zealand, and it would not be safe for his family to relocate to Afghanistan, if he had to return, due to instability in the region. His wife would struggle to care for them without his support because of her compromised psychological health. The husband provided evidence that he applied for a police certificate via the correct channels which he did not receive by the time INZ decided the application. However,  INZ’s main concern was that, because he had not been lawfully in Pakistan, he could not get any government documents such as police certificates. It speculated that he may have been aware of that fact and so that is was why he had decided to provide INZ with a forged police certificate.

Applications Declined

In its conclusion, INZ focused on the forged evidence which had been produced and concluded that this outweighed the positive factors that existed. INZ declined both the residence application and the partnership work visa application on character grounds.

We submitted two appeals on behalf of the husband with the Immigration and Protection Tribunal (“IPT”):

  • A Residence Appeal against INZ’s decision to decline the residence application; and
  • a Humanitarian Appeal against his liability for deportation, as he had become an overstayer.

The Residence Appeal

In the Residence Appeal we presented legal arguments identifying the flaws in INZ’s Character Waiver assessment. Mainly, INZ failed to go through this exercise in a fair and balanced manner. We agreed that the husband had not followed the correct process in obtaining the police certificate. However, in the meantime he had applied for and received a new and valid police certificate through the correct channels.

The IPT agreed with INZ that the provision of the false document was serious. However, the IPT also agreed that INZ’s Character Waiver assessment was flawed for the following reasons:

  • INZ conducted a “Cursory” assessment of the positive factors. It failed to assess the independent medical evidence that had been produced as to the nature of the wife’s health difficulties and the impact that her health challenges had on her life;
  • INZ appeared to accept that the wife could not reasonably be expected to relocate to Afghanistan in the event that he had to return. However, it then failed to expressly recognise that the effect of the husband returning to Afghanistan without his family would be, in all reality, a permanent separation of this family unit. No regard was given to what would be in the children’s best interests which had to be treated as a primary consideration;
  • The husband’s continued presence in New Zealand and support of his wife and children was of real importance to the functioning of the family unit, and it impacted on an assessment of his potential contribution and the strength of his ties to New Zealand;
  • INZ did not engage in a proper weighing and balancing of the various factors for and against the grant of a waiver that existed.

The Residence Appeal was successful and the application was returned to INZ for a correct assessment, including verification of the new police certificate.

The Humanitarian Appeal

The IPT found that the prospect of deportation of the husband before he had the Character Waiver assessment done properly by INZ for his residence application, made for “exceptional circumstances of a humanitarian nature”.  The IPT also accepted that there was a public interest in the protection of the family unit and ordered the grant of a 12-month work visa to the husband. This would allow him to remain here for the time being while his residence application is reassessed and to seek work to support his family and also to plan, along with his wife, for their family’s future.

This was a great outcome for the family. They now have an opportunity to get the residence application correctly assessed by INZ, and a valid visa for the husband to resume employment and continue to support his family. The family unity has been preserved for the time being.

What we have learned?

Not every client has a perfect story. Some clients may have made mistakes during their application process, or may have not had appropriate representation.  In the above scenario, our client did not apply for the police certificate through the appropriate channels and was responsible for the documents provided to INZ. His former representative did not obtain the correct information or documents on his status in Pakistan.

But this does not mean we cannot help.  Our role as immigration specialists is to move up a gear, and find a solution.  It’s all about transparency, dig deep and lay out all the facts on the table. This includes identifying facts which the client may not see as important or relevant, and then help to fix their mistakes when possible.

Don’t be afraid to seek professional assistance when needed. Contact us if you or someone you know is in a similar situation.

Posted in Citizenship, Immigration Appeals, Immigration Industry, Immigration Problems, Immigration Visas, Practice of Law, Refugees | Leave a comment

Bringing your cat or dog to New Zealand

Usually here at Laurent Law we assist human beings with their immigration questions, concerns and problems, but you may be interested to know there is also quite a detailed process for cats and dogs to be able to come to New Zealand too.

The Ministry for Primary Industries regulates the import of animals to New Zealand.

The focus of this blog entry is on the process for importing cats and dogs. There are other processes in place for importing other types of animal to New Zealand, for example horses, farm animals and zoo animals.

Other than cats and dogs, only three species of animals as pets can be imported to New Zealand, these are;

  • chinchillas from Great Britain
  • rabbits from Australia
  • guinea pigs from Australia.

Some species of fish can also be imported, but there is a different process.

There are three categories of country or territory which cats and dogs can be imported from. These are

  1. Australia
  2. Rabies-free
  3. Rabies-absent or well controlled

Rabies is a viral disease that causes inflammation of the brain in humans and other mammals. Rabies is usually spread through a bite of an infected animal. It almost always results in death. There is good reason to keep animals with rabies out of New Zealand due the health risk it poses. New Zealand has long been rabies-free.

Countries that are rabies free include; Japan, Singapore, most Pacific Islands

Countries that are rabies-absent or well controlled include; the UK, the USA, Canada, France, Germany, South Korea, South Africa, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates.

The Ministry for Primary Industries website contains a full list of the countries that fall into each category. If a cat or dog’s country is not on one of these lists, it cannot be imported into New Zealand.

To be eligible for shipping to New Zealand, cats and dogs must be:

  • a domestic cat or dog
  • not be more than 42 days pregnant
  • not a hybrid (offspring of cats crossed with another species), except for Bengal cats
  • be of sufficient age – for cats and dogs from Australia, more than 8 weeks old and weaned; for cats and dogs from rabies-free countries, more than 12 weeks old; for cats and dogs from rabies absent or well controlled countries, more than 9 months old.

Some types of dog, which can be aggressive in nature, are prohibited under the Dog Control Act 1996;

  • Brazilian Fila
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Perro de Presa Canario
  • American Pit Bull Terrier

Owners of cats or dogs from rabies free and rabies absent or well controlled countries must apply for an import permit. An import permit costs $NZD220.74. For all cats and dogs, a veterinarian has to certify that the eligibility requirements above are met and inspect the health of a cat or dog prior to travel. Cat or dog owners must declare any medication their pet is taking.

Cats and dogs are transported in the air-conditioned cargo hold of a plane that is temperature controlled and pressurised, like the cabin where humans travel is.

On arrival in New Zealand, cats and dogs from rabies-free and rabies absent or well controlled countries are inspected and must undergo a quarantine period of at least 10 days. Cats or dogs must enter New Zealand either in Auckland or Christchurch, where cat and dog quarantine facilities are located. Cats and dogs from Australia are inspected on arrival but do not need to undergo a period of quarantine. Cats and dogs must be microchipped.

In most cases, cats and dogs, except those from Australia, must reside in the country of export for at least 6 months (or since birth) immediately before the shipment date. If ticks or fleas are found on arrival, a cat or dog must;

  • go to an approved quarantine facility for treatment or testing; OR
  • return to its country of origin; OR
  • be euthanised

Other nasties that the Ministry for Primary Industries has measures to keep out of New Zealand include;

  • canine heartworm. This involves a parisitic roundworm growing in the heart of a dog, which is transferred by mosquito bite and can sometimes infect humans.
  • leptospirosis. This is a blood infection which can spread to humans.

The Ministry of Primary Industries recommends that cat or dog owners contact a professional pet exporter to help arrange tests, treatments, flights, import permits, shipping crates and other requirements. A full list of pet exporters can be found here.

While our specialty at Laurent Law is in assisting human beings with their immigration matters, if you have a cat or dog you want to bring to New Zealand you can contact us and we may be able to assist. We wish your cat or dog safe travels to New Zealand.

Posted in Citizenship, Immigration Appeals, Immigration Industry, Immigration Problems, Immigration Visas, Practice of Law | 2 Comments