The New Zealand government is stepping up border protection with a new penalty and enforcement regime for airlines which breach their obligations under the Immigration Act.
‘With more than 4.5 million people flying into New Zealand every year, it’s important that we protect our borders and encourage compliance with the law,’ said Immigration Minister Nathan Guy.
‘This new regime will have penalties ranging from $500 to $5000, depending on the breach of the Immigration Act. For instance, under the Act airlines have to check a person has the required travel documents to enter New Zealand, such as a passport and appropriate visa,’ he explained.
Currently breaches of the Act may be subject to court prosecution which can take time and money but Guy pointed out that this new regime will enable immediate action to be taken at the time of the offence.
‘These changes strike the right balance between encouraging compliance with the law, and imposing a fair and reasonable cost on the airlines which fail to comply. Most airlines do a very good job of meeting their requirements, but we need to recognise the seriousness of not doing so. It can result in people entering New Zealand to work illegally, people trafficking, or costs to our health system,’ he added.
The change brings New Zealand into line with Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, which all impose infringement fees on carriers for breaches of immigration obligations.
The new penalty regime is in addition to other work Immigration NZ does with airlines to enforce their immigration obligations, including training and education. Airlines have been consulted and the new infringement regime will come into effect in July.