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A new Act - a new era for immigration

Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman
Minister of Immigration
28 November 2010 Media Statement

A new Act - a new era for immigration

A more efficient immigration system and enhanced border security are two of the key benefits of the new Immigration Act which comes into effect tomorrow, says Immigration Minister Jonathan Coleman.

‘’The Immigration Act 2009 significantly modernises New Zealand’s immigration laws and provides us with a robust framework for the future.

‘’This Act will help us improve the efficiency of immigration systems by sharpening some processes. It is 21st century legislation which reflects the changing trends in immigration and it will encourage the visitors, students, skilled workers and new residents that New Zealand needs to grow our economy,’’ says Dr Coleman.

‘’The Act also helps us build on our international good citizen and humanitarian reputation, and it helps us protect New Zealand from immigration abuses and international security risks.

‘’It is the biggest overhaul of immigration legislation in nearly a quarter of a century, and has had cross-party support during its development. It began with a review of the legislation in 2006, and saw a wide range of individuals and organisations consulted before it was passed into law just over a year ago.

‘’The Act itself does not make major changes to the criteria under which most people apply to travel to and stay in New Zealand, but sets the solid and consistent foundations for us to build on.’’

Changes of note that come into effect tomorrow include:

• A universal visa system that maintains flexibility in managing people’s travel to and stay in New Zealand. It removes distinctions between the categories of “visa”, “permit” and “exemption”, and uses the single term “visa” to refer to the authority to travel to, enter and stay in New Zealand.

• Stronger visitor and family residence sponsorship criteria and obligations designed to better protect New Zealand taxpayers and sponsored people; and new sponsorship opportunities for New Zealand private sector organisations and government agencies.

• Tighter employer obligations designed to ensure prospective employees are legally entitled to work in New Zealand – and help for employers to make the checks quickly and easily while still retaining privacy protections.

• A new Immigration and Protection Tribunal appeal body (administered by the Ministry of Justice) in place of the four previous appeal bodies.

• New provisions to manage potential abuses of New Zealand’s refugee asylum process.

• A more streamlined process for deporting people who have breached or overstayed their visas.

• The new Act will support any future Government decisions to simplify trans-Tasman travel. If required, it means immigration functions that occur at the New Zealand border can occur at an offshore border. For example, they will enable the grant of entry permission and the activation of a person’s permission to stay in New Zealand to be done offshore.

Other notable changes that will come into effect at a later date:

• A new ‘interim visa’ will be introduced early next year that, in many cases, will allow people to remain in New Zealand lawfully while their new temporary visa application is considered.

• More efficient processes for detaining people who are a threat to the integrity of the immigration system or the security and safety of New Zealand - the date of these provisions are yet to be determined.

• The green light for ‘biometrics’ to better verify the identity of foreign nationals (for example, iris scans) and the ability to share this information with some other government agencies, both in New Zealand and internationally – the date of these provisions is yet to be determined.

More information about the new Act is available on the Immigration New Zealand website:

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