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Immigration Rules To Be Challenged In Court

Immigration Rules To Be Challenged In Court

A legal challenge has been mounted to last month’s changes to immigration rules.

The New Zealand Association for Migration & Investment today filed proceedings in the High Court against retrospective aspects of the rule changes introduced on 19 November.

The Association represents nearly 200 members nationwide, including immigration and investment consultants, banks, business specialists and financial advisors.

It today described the retrospective changes as unfair, unjust, harmful to our economy and as dragging New Zealand’s reputation through the mire.

“This is not just a case of suddenly imposing an unrealistically tough English language requirement on applications which have been in the pipeline for some time,” said the NZAMI’s Chairman, Bill Milnes.

“The new rules also restrict Job Search visas for General Skills applicants to those on the ever-changing Occupational Shortages List. This will exclude a very high percentage of those who lodged applications in good faith before the rules were suddenly altered last month.

“Similarly, new and highly restrictive criteria on the granting of Long Term Business Visas are being imposed on existing applicants, severely impacting on their ability to run successful businesses in New Zealand,” he added.

Mr Milnes described the retrospective imposition of the new rules as contrary to the principles of fairness and justice which are meant to govern the activities of the New Zealand Immigration Service and as possibly contravening the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act of 1990.

“Our country’s reputation is being dragged through the mire by the Immigration Service’s failure to work to a fair, humane and, above all, consistent set of rules,” he said.

“The lives of many applicants have been on hold for months or even years as they go through the long, complex and expensive process of preparing themselves for emigration. Some of them had actually been invited by the Immigration Service to apply for Job Search visas, with the implicit understanding that all their applications required in order to succeed were New Zealand job offers.

“It’s absolutely shameful for a publicly-funded body to then turn round and say ‘we’ve changed our mind’ to people who may already have left their jobs and sold their homes on the realistic expectation of a new life in New Zealand. What sort of message does that give the world about our humanity or sense of responsibility?” Mr Milnes asked.

The NZAMI estimates that up to 20,000 potential new New Zealanders may have been affected by the retrospective application of immigration rule changes. This contrasts with an estimated figure of 6,000 suggested by the New Zealand Immigration Service.

The Association believes that approximately two billion dollars will be taken out of the economy as a result of last month’s overall tightening of rules governing immigration and overseas investment.

“We thought long and hard before embarking on a legal challenge to the new rules. Our members do not stand to gain financially if we succeed. But we cannot ignore the fate of thousands of people left in limbo by bureaucratic whim. Nor, as New Zealanders, can we ignore so flagrant an abuse of power by a branch of our country’s government,” said Mr Milnes.

“It’s not too late for the Immigration Minister to change her mind and abandon the retrospective application of the rule changes before the issue reaches the courtroom. Because they are inherently unfair, we tend to avoid retrospective rules in other policy areas. Why should immigration be any different?” he said.

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