I was interviewed yesterday by Newshub about the Irish visitors who are at the centre of a media storm owing to their antics from Auckland to Hamilton.  They have been served Deportation Liability Notices (“DLN”s) and are apparently planning to leave.  The Irish community in New Zealand has distanced itself from them, and it may be that they are part of the distinct “Traveller” ethnic group who have settled in England.

The group is here on tourist visas.  A DLN can be issued against temporary visa holders under section 157 of the Immigration Act for a number of reasons.  The ground that has probably been applied to most of them is a generic provision, “other matters relating to character”.  That is, even if they have not been charged with an offence, this provision can be used if the Minister of Immigration sees “sufficient reason” to deport them.

Someone served with a DLN in this way has 14 days to put forward reasons why they should not be deported, and 28 days to appeal to the Immigration & Protection Tribunal.  If they use up their appeal rights, or don’t exercise them, then eventually Immigration has the right to serve them with Deportation Orders; and even if Orders are not served and they eventually leave on their own, they are banned from applying for a visa to enter New Zealand for 5 years.

However, it doesn’t appear that the group is going to fight it.  They now say that they plan to leave the country by the end of the week.  If they do this voluntarily, then technically they will not have been deported.  This is important, because if they apply to enter other countries they can legitimately answer “No” when asked the standard question “Have you ever been deported from any country?”  Still, this incident will no doubt make it impossible for them to get visas to Australia, the US and Canada for quite a while, because New Zealand shares visa information with those countries (and the UK) under the Five Country Conference accord.

Furthermore, the 5-year ban on getting visas for New Zealand later will not apply to them if they leave quickly.  It’s hard to see, though, how they would ever get back in here after the furore that has blown up around them.  Immigration New Zealand has no doubt already posted Alerts against their visa records to warn that they should not be permitted to re-enter for several years.

At least one of them has in fact been charged with an offence.  In that case they could additionally be liable for deportation for “criminal offending” even if no conviction is entered against them.  That person would normally be required to remain in the country to face the charges and to be sentenced if found Guilty.  What is also likely is that Immigration and the Police agree to let the charges drop so that they can put the offender on a plane out of the country.

If you want to know more about how deportation works, visit other postings from our blog, including one by Dew James of our office.