13 Mar 2013

Migrants let down by system - Tongan leader

7:10 pm on 13 March 2013

A Tongan community leader is calling for an inquiry into immigration service failures because he believes an ombudsman's report represents only the tip of the iceberg of immigrants who have been let down by the system.

The Chief Ombudsman says overstayers were given inconsistent advice on the policy for filling Pacific residence quotas in 2004 and 2005 and some should have their cases reassessed.

The chair of the Auckland Tongan Advisory Council, Melino Maka, says many Pacific Islanders were badly advised but it was all swept under the carpet.

Mr Maka says many people remain here illegally or have been deported, some only three months ago, although they did the right thing at the time.

Immigration lawyer Richard Small says the failures at Immigration New Zealand mean more Pacific Islanders may be re-assessed for residence.

Immigration New Zealand has admitted the failings, and says it's now trying to contact people who may be eligible, to invite them to apply for a visa, and they will have three months to do that.

Mr Small says he's hopeful strong publicity will mean about 50 families come forward to reapply for visas.