Legislation is important in the New Zealand immigration context. It is intended to provide a framework for the management of immigration in New Zealand in a way that balances New Zealand’s national interests with international obligations, while protecting New Zealanders and migrants.

Legislation can include Acts of Parliament, Bills which have been introduced to Parliament but not yet passed into law, legislative instruments which can include Orders in Council, Regulations, rules, and notices. Legislation can be found on the New Zealand Parliamentary Counsel website, at the following link here.

Acts of Parliament, once they are passed through Parliament and receive the royal assent by the Governor-General, have the full force of law in New Zealand. Acts of Parliament are the primary source of law in New Zealand and take precedence over other law, for example regulations and decisions by Judges in the Courts. 

Immigration law arises out of the fundamental principle of “state sovereignty”, the right of a state to control its borders. However, a country such as New Zealand also has international obligations which it takes seriously, and keeps in step with international law and associated developments, especially with regard to human rights.

In the immigration context, the following legislation is relevant:

  1. The Immigration Act 2009. The Act sets out the following.
  • Who needs a visa to travel to or stay in New Zealand.
  • How immigration instructions are produced, and the rules and criteria for the grant of visas. Immigration instructions are found in the INZ operational manual, which are here. This is a detailed manual which governs the way Visa applications are decided by Immigration New Zealand.
  • The responsibilities of people when they first arrive in New Zealand.
  • The legal basis for New Zealand to meet its international responsibilities under the Refugee Convention, the Convention against Torture, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
  • The requirements that visitors, migrants, students, employers and educators must meet, and the information they must give to Immigration New Zealand.
  • Rules around deportation.
  • Criminal offences relating to immigration, which include providing false and misleading information, obstruction or failing to provide information in certain situations; and employers can also face offences such as employing someone who does not have a valid visa.
  • The establishment of the Immigration and Protection Tribunal, an independent body which hears residence appeals, refugee and protection appeals, and appeals against deportation

2. Immigration regulations. The following regulations support the Immigration Act 2009.

  • Regulations relating to residence, temporary entry and transit visas.
  • Forms and warrants used for deportation or the mass arrival of asylum seekers.
  • How refugee claims are managed.
  • The responsibilities of airlines and other transport providers to check and hold information about their passengers.
  • The penalties which airlines and other transport providers may be liable for if they don’t meet their obligations.
  • How the Immigration and Protection Tribunal operates and its powers

3. The Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007.  This covers the licensing of Immigration Advisers. The Act also defines what immigration advice is, who can provide it and how complaints against advisers are handled.

4. Other legislation which is relevant in immigration matters includes the Privacy Act 1993 and the Official Information Act 1982

  • The Privacy Act 1993 describes how all government agencies, including INZ, manage personal information.
  • The Official Information Act 1982 aims to increase public access to official information, lets people see official information about themselves and protects the public interest and safeguards personal privacy.

A request for information under the Privacy Act 1993 or Official Information Act 1982 usually takes 20 working days.

This legislation forms a framework of rules which govern how immigration into New Zealand is managed, including how visa applications are decided. Immigration New Zealand has a function in applying New Zealand’s immigration rules and laws, to support New Zealand’s economic growth to strengthen our relationship with other parts of the world. Immigration New Zealand offers a range of visas for people who want to visit, work, study, live or invest in New Zealand.

The task of applying for a visa for many people is a daunting process, the rules can be complex and challenging to navigate. Things can go wrong during the course of an application, or an application might be declined, meaning assistance to resolve this is needed.

The consequences of getting something wrong, for example by missing an expiring medical or police certificate, can be very serious. A person may have to leave New Zealand, in the worst case scenario this may be forcible, by immigration officials or the police. Visa applications, more complex ones in particular or where the stakes for an applicant are higher, therefore need to be carefully prepared, which often requires time, so the best possible chance of success is secured.

If you have a visa application or a problem with a visa application that you need assistance with, contact us here at Laurent Law.