What is a Character Waiver? Immigration to NZ

Recently I was asked to present to the NZ Criminal Bar association on what happens when a person lodges an application with INZ but has a criminal record. You can check out the presentation here.

In brief everyone entering NZ must be of be of good character and not pose a potential security risk to NZ. This is primarily assessed through the character requirements for entry into NZ which are the same whether you are applying for residence or for temporary entry.
If you fall under the Sections 15 and/or 16 of the Immigration Act, you will not be able to enter NZ unless you first obtain a Character waiver (字符豁免).

At Queen City Law we can help you navigate the process successfully, check out more about our Immigration services here. The team are very experienced at guiding individuals through the immigration process, particularly those individuals needing assistance with Character waivers or medical waivers. Principle Marcus Beveridge is one of New Zealand’s most experienced immigration lawyers, who is often called on for media comment on such cases. You can read more about Marcus and the team at Queen City Law here.  Ask us if you need a character waiver to supplement your application for residency or work permit.

So what are the character requirements outlined in Section 15 & 16 ?

Under sections 15 and 16 of the Immigration Act we will not grant you a visa if:

  • you have been convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for 5 years or more (this applies even if any of your offences have later been taken off the record)
  • in the past 10 years you were convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for 12 months or more
  • you are subject to a period of prohibition on entry to New Zealand under section 179 or 180 of the Immigration Act 2009
  • you have been deported or removed from New Zealand under any enactment (whether before or after the commencement of the Immigration Act 2009)
  • you are excluded from New Zealand under any enactment
  • you have, at any time, been removed, excluded, or deported from another country
  • you have been involved in terrorist activities, or belonged to or supported any organisation involved in terrorist activities
  • it is believed you are likely to commit – or to assist others to commit – criminal or drug offences, or an act of terrorism, in New Zealand
  • it is believed you are likely – due to any international circumstances – to be a danger to New Zealand’s security or public order
  • it is believed you are associated with an organisation or group that has criminal objectives or is engaged in criminal activities and for that – or any other reason – you’re considered to be a threat to the public interest or public order of New Zealand.

The NZ immigration Service carry out character checks on everyone 17 years or over included in residence applications or applying for temporary entry for 24 months or longer. Sometimes they undertake a character check on anyone else that is considered to not meet the character requirements.

Providing evidence of good character
If you are coming to New Zealand for 24 months or longer you’ll have to provide police certificates as evidence of your good character.

  • everyone 17 years and over included in your application for residence
  • everyone 17 years and over included in your application for a temporary visa for 24 months or longer.

You will need certificates from:

  • your country of citizenship (unless you can prove you never lived there).
  •  if you are applying for residence: any country you have been in for 12 months or more in the last 10 years, whether in one or more visits.
  • If you are already in New Zealand, for example, under the Work to Residence category, this includes obtaining a police certificate from the New Zealand police.
  • if you are applying for a temporary entry visa: any country you’ve lived in for 5 or more years since turning 17.

For more information on Immigrating to New Zealand and excellent representation of your case don’t hesitate to contact us