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Immigration Act review terms of reference released

Immigration Act review terms of reference released

Immigration Minister Paul Swain today released the terms of reference for the review of the 18-year-old Immigration Act.

Mr Swain said a fundamental review of the Act was needed to make it more relevant to New Zealand’s needs and the international environment, which had both changed since the Act was introduced in 1987.

“More people are travelling than ever before, tourism is increasingly important for New Zealand and there is growing demand for skills and labour," Mr Swain said.

"But just as important, given increasing security concerns following September 11, is New Zealand's right to keep out the people we don’t want and remove those who shouldn't be here.

“This is about balance. We want firm, fast and fair immigration processes that protect New Zealand's interests while also recognising that we want and need visitors and immigrants."

Mr Swain said it had become increasingly clear the Act needed an overhaul to achieve these goals. Work will be divided into seven broad areas: Purpose and principles of immigration legislation Entry to New Zealand and migrant obligations Grant of protection in New Zealand (such as refugees) Enforcement Expulsion Review and appeal Inter-related issues (such as levels of decision making).

Mr Swain said the government started considering what changes needed to be made late last year. It is expected law changes resulting from the review will be introduced into Parliament within two years.

"There have been numerous amendments made to the Act since 1987 and it is fair to say some have not been as successful as they should have been because they have been piecemeal. That is why we are making sure we get it right this time. We are opting for a fundamental review, which will involve public consultation,” Mr Swain said.

New Zealand’s commitment to its international obligations is not in question. Part 4A of the Act, which covers security risk issues, will be reviewed separately.

Mr Swain said the review was part of a wider push from the government to attract skilled migrants, improve border security and regulate immigration agents.

"Taken together, all these measures show that the government is serious about making sure our immigration system works in New Zealand's interests."

The terms of reference are also available online at http://www.immigration.govt.nz/migrant under the latest news link.

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