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Process to resolve residence status of Zimbabweans

Hon Paul Swain

23 September 2004

Process to resolve residence status of Zimbabweans on temporary permits

The government has set up a process that will enable Zimbabweans in New Zealand on temporary permits to be considered for permanent residence, Immigration Minister Paul Swain said today.

Paul Swain said that in recent years a number of people had fled Zimbabwe, which is in a profound economic and political crisis. More than 2000 Zimbabweans are in New Zealand and some have had their status rolled over for up to four years.

The Immigration Service will be writing to all Zimbabweans who arrived prior to today on temporary permits inviting them to come forward for consideration of their status.

A number are expected to qualify for permanent residence under existing categories. Those who do not will be considered under a special residence policy. All applicants will undergo stringent health and character tests.

Last year New Zealand suspended visa waivers for Zimbabwean visitors. Stringent criteria are now being applied to new applicants for visitor visas. Visitor visas are issued for short-term stays only. No Zimbabweans entering from the time of this announcement will be considered for permanent residence under this special residence policy.

Paul Swain said Associate Immigration Minister Damien O'Connor would consider any difficult health and character issues on a case-by-case basis. Mr O'Connor may also consider requests for special directions from another 150 Zimbabweans who are in New Zealand on expired permits.

Paul Swain said people wanting more information can visit www.immigration.govt.nz or call the service's call centre on 0508 55 88 55. Zimbabweans are also being asked to confirm their address and details by emailing zimbabwe@dol.govt.nz.


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