31 May 2017

Suspended deportation to preclude visa sponsorship

1:38 pm on 31 May 2017

People facing deportation have - until now - been allowed to sponsor relatives' visa applications, Immigration New Zealand says.

Immigration to New Zealand.

Immigration to New Zealand. Photo: RNZ

Immigration New Zealand on Monday brought in new rules preventing people whose deportations have been suspended from sponsoring their relatives' temporary or residents' visa applications.

It said 200 immigrants' deportations were suspended each year and a "reasonably small proportion" had attempted to bring family members in during that time.

Visas had been approved under those circumstances, but information on how many was "not available in a reportable format".

Immigrants would still be able to support their partner and children's temporary visas if the person seeking the visa already held a visa based on their relationship.

Figures showed 4000 people have been deported over the last five years, including 300 who were deported after committing a crime.

In a statement, Immigration New Zealand said the power to suspend deportation liability was introduced in the Immigration Act 2009.

"As it is a discretionary power, it was not really possible to anticipate how widely used it would be," its manager of immigration resolutions, Margaret Cantlon, said.

"In May 2017, the Minister of Immigration decided that a person who has their liability suspended should not be able to sponsor any other person."

The founder of the Sensible Sentencing Trust Garth McVicar said it was "ludicrous", and common sense should have applied.

"I struggle to think that that could have even become the situation," he said.

"It just shouldn't be happening. I'm pleased that they are shutting that gap but it should never have evolved to that situation at all.

"When [immigrants] commit a crime here we seem to be so lenient with them. If they break the rules, their feet shouldn't touch the ground."

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse and Immigration New Zealand have been approached for comment.

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