We have recently encountered a partnership case where Immigration New Zealand (“INZ”) have accused the applicant of providing false and misleading information to INZ without any valid basis. The provision of false and misleading information to INZ is a serious accusation and potentially making the applicant ineligible for grant of a temporary entry visa unless granted a character waiver.

The general rule is that every applicant must meet the good character requirement for entry to New Zealand. This information is also available on INZ’s Knowledge Base. Under immigration instructions A5.45 Applicants normally ineligible for a temporary entry class visa unless granted a character waiver, include any person who: “in the course applying for a New Zealand visa, has made any statement or provided any information, evidence or submission that was false, misleading or forged, or withheld material information” A5.45(b)

In a recent case, INZ have interviewed a couple for a temporary entry partnership application. During the interview, the immigration officer questioned the applicant and the supporting partner about the letters of support provided from their parents. The parents knew about the relationship and the letters but did not write the letters. No questions were raised to the parents as to whether they signed the letters as INZ focused on who typed (wrote) the letter.

During the interview the applicant and supporting partner confirmed they typed the letters and did it based on the conversations they had with their parents about their relationship. The letters were then signed by the parents who acknowledged the content is true and correct.

Is typing a letter on behalf of someone considered false /misleading information?

The first step was to identify whether INZ’s accusation is genuine. We had to hear the full interview as this is a crucial step, knowing exactly how the questions were phrase and the answers received to each of those questions and whether it was within context. In this case; upon hearing the full interview; we identified that INZ’s emphasis on who wrote the letter was flawed and unreasonable. INZ are aware the parents signed the letters, approved the content of the letter and acknowledged the relationship. However, INZ advised the applicant during the interview that they need to write on the form that this letter was typed following a conversation with the parents. This is factually incorrect, because it is irrelevant who writes the letter, what is relevant is whether the content of the letter is correct and whether the parents signed the letters.

Therefore, the applicant’s actions cannot be interpreted as providing false and misleading information as there was nothing false or misleading in the information provided. A5.45(b) does not apply and character waiver is not required. A person who types or writes a letter to help someone else before they sign it, is not committing a crime. If a document is transcribed by one person which records what someone else says, the writer is effectively acting as their secretary taking down dictation. So, there is no dishonesty or misleading information that was provided. The accountably lies on the person who signs it. A person is tempted to provide false or misleading information when they are trying to prove something that is not true and INZ have made serious accusation which is not based on valid evidence.

What to take out of this?

The claim that this discloses a character issue warrants a proper consideration of the definition of false and misleading information and the application of the balance of probabilities test before reaching the conclusion that it falls under A4.45(b) of the character instructions. If we have not stepped in to challenge the fact there was no false or misleading information provided to INZ, the consequences would have been serious due to the absurd accusations. The application could have been declined if the character waiver was denied and the applicant would have had an alert on INZ records.

INZ’s concerns are not necessarily accurate and spot on. Like any other human, immigration officers can make mistakes. If you receive a letter from INZ raising character concerns, don’t panic, but this is when you stop and consider reaching out for professional help to address such concerns. If you encounter such an issue, contact Laurent Law for assistance.