New immigration act takes effect in New Zealand

by Ray Clancy on November 19, 2010

New Zealand implements new immigration rules

The new immigration act in New Zealand comes into effect towards the end of this month when a new fee structure is also introduced.

The main changes under the Immigration Act 2009 (the new act) take the form of new terms to describe the immigration process and the actual process of applying to enter or to stay in New Zealand remains the same.

The act introduces a new sponsorship system that allows organisations such as companies, charitable trusts and societies to sponsor individuals in some circumstances. Previously, only individuals could sponsor people coming to New Zealand.

The act also introduces obligations on employers to ensure they do not employ foreign workers who are not entitled to work in New Zealand or for that employer. From November 29, 2010, employers will need to show they have taken ‘reasonable precautions’ and ‘exercised due diligence’ in checking whether foreign workers are entitled to work for them. It will simply not be enough for employers to show that a foreign worker has completed the Inland Revenue Department IR330 form declaring that they hold a valid work permit.

Also under the new act the word ‘permit’ is no longer used. Under the previous act a visa allowed an individual to travel to New Zealand and a permit was needed to stay. Now a visa will allow a person to travel or stay.

Under the 1987 Act, visa holders applied for a ‘permit’ to enter and stay in New Zealand when they arrived by completing an arrival card. Under the 2009 Act, visa holders instead apply for ‘entry permission’ using the arrival card. Normally, a person holding a visa will be granted ‘entry permission’ to allow him or her to enter and stay in New Zealand for the time period allowed by the visa.

The fees for visas are also changing. As of the 29th of November applicants will be subject to the new structure. Expression of Interest fees for online applications will rise from NZ$400 to NZ$440, Skilled Migrant Residence Applications will go up from NZ$1,800 to NZ$2,050, Migrant Levy payments from $306.67 to $310 per person over the age of five, Family Residence applications from $1200 to $1,350 and Working Holiday Visa from $120 to $140.

Applications that are lodged before 29 November 2010 but considered on and after 29 November 2010 will continue to be assessed using the same criteria that applied on the day the application was accepted. ‘Applicants who lodge applications on or after 29 November 2010 will need to submit the correct fee at the time the application is lodged,’ said a spokesman for Immigration New Zealand.

Also if the application is approved, the visa granted will have the same entitlement as any visa or permit that would have otherwise been granted under the 1987 Act, but the visa labels will use the new format to display those entitlements.

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