Help! Being deported, what can I do?

Are you worried about being deported?

Recently there have been several high profile reports of deportation issues in the NZ media. Queen City Law Immigration expert Rita Worner examines some of the aspects of deportation law in NZ.  She has previously worked in a regulatory role within the immigration advice QCL-MEDIA-final_4804-ritaindustry. Rita is dedicated and reliable, and works hard to achieve results. Rita is passionate about human rights and a member of Zonta, a global organisation working to advance the status of women. Recently Rita advised specialist offshore companies requiring work visas for the Christchurch rebuild, assisting a number of clients obtain successful immigration outcomes after being declined using immigration agents or other lawyers. To read articles by Rita click here. To find out more about Rita click here. To download this article as printable PDF click here.

There are various ways in which an immigrant to NZ can become liable for deportation. The most common reason someone would be deported is if they are an ‘overstayer’, i.e. they have let their visa expire and have not been granted a new visa. Even people on valid visas can be deported for a range of different reasons.

Most people breathe a sigh of relief once they obtain their residence visa. The hardest part of the immigration process is now over, and they are entitled to the same rights as all other New Zealanders.  However it is important to be aware that residents (as opposed to citizens) can still be subject to deportation. Here we look at the ways in which a resident can become liable for deportation; some of them may surprise you:

Deportation liability of residence class visa holder convicted of criminal offence This section of the Immigration Act 2009 outlines which convictions will lead to deportation liability. An important point to note is that it does not matter what term the person was actually sentenced to or actually served, but instead what sentence the Court can impose. For example, deportation liability will arise where a migrant is convicted of:deported

– driving in contravention of specified breath or blood-alcohol limit (‘drink driving’) within 2 years of obtaining residency

– assault within 2 years of obtaining residency

– aggravated careless use of vehicle causing injury within 5 years of obtaining residency

– indecent assault within 10 years of obtaining residency

– wounding with intent within 10 years of obtaining residency

Don’t forget that criminal liability also arises for breaches under the Companies Act 1993 and Health & Safety in Employment Act 1992, so business owners who are new residents will need to be especially careful.

Essentially, a resident becomes liable for deportation if they are convicted:

(a) of an offence for which the court has the power to impose imprisonment for a term of 3 months or more if the offence was committed at any time—

(i) when the person was unlawfully in New Zealand; or

(ii) when the person held a temporary entry class visa; or

(iii) not later than 2 years after the person first held a residence class visa; or

(b) of an offence for which the court has the power to impose imprisonment for a term of 2 years or more, if the offence was committed not later than 5 years after the person first held a residence class visa; or

(c) of an offence and sentenced to imprisonment for a term

of 5 years or more (or for an indeterminate period capable of running for 5 years or more), if the offence was committed not later than 10 years after the person first held a residence class visa. This applies to convictions in New Zealand and overseas.

Other triggers for deportation of residents include those found to constitute a threat or risk to security and those found to obtain their visa through fraud.  What is especially concerning for new residents is that secondary applicants can become liable for deportation where the primary applicant has been convicted of an offence or breached the conditions of their visa.

The period of deportation liability is ten years after the event which triggered the liability takes place. The 10 years excludes any time spent in prison. If you think you may be liable for deportation, it is best to seek professional legal advice early. Queen City Law are very experienced in this field and can assist you. Click here to contact our Immigration team.