Help! I am facing deportation

At Laurent Law we have met several clients in recent months who hold Residence in New Zealand but have found themselves subject to deportation action by Immigration New Zealand.

Facing deportation, i.e. being told that you may need to leave New Zealand despite being the holder of a Residence Visa, can be extremely scary. The clients we meet who find themselves in this position are often desperate, emotionally and physically exhausted. Clients facing deportation want a Lawyer to help them that they can trust and who can take as much of the worry away as possible.

We are proud to say that Lawyers at Laurent Law have a lot of experience in looking after clients who face being deported from New Zealand.

In this article we describe some of the situations we have recently looked after for clients.

The process usually followed, with some examples:

Commonly, holders of Residence Visas face becoming liable for deportation because of criminal offending. The most common situation we see is where someone receives a conviction for drink driving (an offence under section 56 Land Transport Act 1998), but other convictions include assault, and we have seen people facing deportation for more serious offences such as burglary and being in possession of a restricted weapon.

We have recently handled situations for clients that involve the following sections of the Immigration Act 2009:

Section 161 states that the holder of a Residence class Visa can become liable for deportation due to criminal offending.

Section 158 states that the holder of a Residence class Visa can become liable for deportation for fraud, forgery or for giving false or misleading information.

Section 159 states that the holder of a Residence class Visa can become liable for deportation if they breach the conditions of their Residence Visa.

The usual process is that INZ Resolutions Branch in Wellington sends the person a letter setting out the reasons why a Delegated Decision Maker (DDM) might issue them with a deportation liability notice. The letter usually asks for submissions and for completion of a template-style questionnaire. A DDM is usually a senior Immigration New Zealand official who has the authority of the Minister of Immigration for these sorts of cases.

Completing the questionnaire is a good start, but there is a lot more Lawyers at Laurent Law can and will do in addition, by providing submissions in support of a client. Usually where there is criminal offending involved our approach is to ensure the client’s full circumstances and explanations with supporting documents are presented. This goes well beyond merely providing the information asked for by the questionnaire.

Clients liable for deportation for reasons other than criminal offending often need careful submissions too, including where the allegation is that the client has provided false or misleading information with their Residence application, or the conditions of a Residence Visa have been breached. We have handled situations like this recently.

After submissions have been provided, INZ Resolutions Branch will prepare the file and a briefing note for a DDM to review and decide whether to;

(a) issue a deportation liablity notice; or

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

(c) issue a deportation liablity notice but then suspend deportation for a specified period of time :

If deportation liability is suspended, this means that deportation will not proceed so long as the person complies with stated conditions. In the case of criminal offending the person must not receive another criminal conviction during the suspension period.

If the DDM is satisfied by the submissions provided, a deportation liability notice may not be issued. Or if a deportation liability notice is issued, it might be immediately cancelled. However, our experience is that where suspension of deportation liability for a period of time is a realistic option, then that is more likely.

Can I appeal to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal?

If a DDM decides to issue the holder of a Residence Visa a deportation liability notice, there is usually an option to appeal to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal either on the facts, or on humanitarian grounds.

As the holder of a Residence Visa, you will be entitled to an oral hearing, usually at the Tribunal’s premises in Auckland CBD. We have assisted with this type of in-person appeal before (uncommon, because we are normally quite good at getting a successful outcome before an appeal becomes necessary, but for example, see DZ (South Africa) [2024] NZIPT  506173). For a successful appeal involving alleged false and misleading information, see Chen v Minister of Immigration [2016] NZIPT 600254.

An appeal on the facts is available if a person is made liable for deportation under section 158 or section 159 Immigration Act 2009 (cited above). An appeal on humanitarian grounds is available in almost all cases.

An appeal on the facts is about the reasons why a person has been liable for deportation.  For example, we have to show that a client has not provided false and misleading information or did not breach the conditions of their Residence Visa. An appeal on humanitarian grounds is about whether there are exceptional humanitarian circumstances that make it unjust or unduly harsh for a person to be deported, and whether it would be contrary to the public interest for the person to remain in New Zealand.

Please feel welcome to contact us if you have received a letter from INZ Resolutions Branch and need help to provide submissions on why you should not be made liable for deportation.