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Immigration Agents Warned Not To Withhold Passport

Immigration Agents Warned Not To Withhold Passports

Immigration consultants who withhold their clients' passports are breaking the law and should be reported to Police, Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel said today.

The Minister said she was concerned at anecdotal reports indicating that some immigration lawyers and consultants were withholding people's passports, and as a result, disadvantaging them from making applications to the New Zealand Immigration Service.

The Government's Transitional Policy, which offers a one-off opportunity for well-settled overstayers to legalise their status, ends on March 30. The Transitional Policy applies to well-settled overstayers who have lived in New Zealand for at least five years or, have a New Zealand spouse or a New Zealand-born child.

"I am aware that there are overstayers who believe they are eligible to apply under Transitional Policy, but they are unable to lodge complete applications because their passports are being held by an agent," the Minister said.

"To ensure that people eligible under the Policy are not disadvantaged, the NZ Immigration Service will, where necessary, issue Certificates of Identity to enable applications to be lodged.

"In addition, where people are able to show they have applied for overseas police certificates that have not yet been received, the NZIS will accept the application.

"I want to make it clear to all who find themselves in the situation where their consultant has possession of their passport that they should demand its return immediately.

"I urge anyone who has been unable to get their passport returned, to go the Police. I understand that people, who are aware they are here illegally, may be reluctant to approach the Police. If that is the case then I encourage asking a friend to do this on your behalf or seek help from your local Member of Parliament. Otherwise, approach NZIS for a Certificate of Identity so at least, your application under the Transitional Policy can be processed," she said.

This is the last chance to address unlawful status and Lianne Dalziel says NZIS is doing everything it can to ensure that those entitled to utilise the Transitional Policy are given the chance to do so.


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