In the last few weeks we’ve seen an upswing in the number of people coming to us after they have been served with Deportation papers.  Others in the industry have reported the same trend.  It’s clear that Immigration is finally starting to use its new compliance tools in earnest.

By my calculations there are 15 different ways that people can become liable for deportation.  These range from being in NZ without a visa, to being convicted of an offence within the first few years of getting one’s first Resident Visa; and a catch-all provision “if the Minister determines that there is sufficient reason to deport . . .”  This last one is one is being used a lot when Immigration believes that someone has given misleading information while applying for their temporary visa.  Although they can’t say that someone has committed fraud, it allows them to decide that the person might not have got the visa if that information had been provided in the first place.

The current deportation system began in November 2010 under the new Immigration Act.  There are two key stages:

  • The Deportation Liability Notice tells you why you risk deportation and sets out your rights of appeal – if you have any.  Your ability to appeal depends on why you face deportation.  In some cases you can write to Immigration within 14 days to argue why they should cancel the Notice; and in almost all cases you can put in an appeal to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal within 28 days of the Notice.
  • The Deportation Order which allows Immigration to send someone out of New Zealand as soon as it has been served on them.  The worst thing about getting an Order served on you is that it will prevent you from re-entering NZ again for several years.  The length of the ban depends on the reason why you are being deported.

If you are here unlawfully (without a visa) they can serve the Notice and the Order at the same time and arrest you right away.  If you have been here unlawfully for more than 6 weeks then you have no right of appeal at all.

We often have to tell overstayers who have got a Notice and/or an Order that they should not simply try to stay in New Zealand at all costs.  This could land them in prison (or keep them in prison longer) and Court action to stop deportation usually doesn’t work.  Sometimes the best option is to get out of the country and apply to come back.  If you co-operate with Immigration they will even write favourable notes on your file to help you to return.  This happened in a recent case where the overstayer had a partner and children, and the Compliance officer could see that the family was strong and genuine.

There are some exceptions where it is possible to convince Immigration to cancel deportation action.  This could be where young children are involved or the person holds a mission-critical job.  However, we only recommend this line of action if we can be sure that it will not make things worse for the client later.

Beware of some consultants and lawyers who promise to get you a visa if you pay a bag of money to them.  Losing that money on hopeless efforts to apply to the Minister of Immigration and so on could be the least of your problems if you follow that strategy.