The Immigration Act 2009 comes into effect from 29 November 2010. Until then the Immigration Act 1987 applies. The key changes factsheet is a good place to start. It gives an overview of what’s happening, and gives an introduction to the other factsheets, which include:
* New terminology and concepts – outlines, for example, how we will no longer use the word ‘permit’ and instead use the word ‘visa’, and that the terms ‘residence permits’, ‘residence visas’ and ‘returning resident’s visas will be replaced by ‘resident visas’ and ‘permanent resident visas’ – but there is no change to existing categories for people wishing to settle in New Zealand.
* Residence – explains how people granted residence in New Zealand will be granted ‘resident visas’ with ‘travel conditions’, or ‘permanent resident visas’, and what these things mean.
* Sponsorship – shows how family and friends sponsorship criteria and obligations are being strengthened, and that organisations will be able to act as sponsors in some situations.
* IPT – talks about the introduction of the independent Immigration and Protection Tribunal.
* Employer obligations – explains new obligations for employers and how Immigration New Zealand is helping them meet these.
* Education providers – outlines new provisions for education providers.
People who hold a visa or permit, or have applied for a visa or permit, do not need to reapply.The key changes are:
* The visa and permit framework has been simplified to just ‘visa’.
* The process at the border which allows non-New Zealand citizens entry to New Zealand is called ‘entry permission’.
* A new concept of ‘deeming’ has been introduced.
While some of the terms used to describe immigration processes will change, the actual process of applying to travel to, enter, or stay in New Zealand will remain the same.
The new visa framework
Under the Immigration Act 2009 (the new Act), a visa is an authority for an individual to travel to, or stay in New Zealand (under the Immigration Act 1987 a visa only allowed you to travel to New Zealand and a permit allowed you to stay).
Just as it does now, a visa will have conditions that indicate what the holder of the visa may do. For example, for workers, the right to work in a specific occupation for a specified employer, or for students, the ability study at a particular educational institute.
The new Act allows for the following types of visas:
* Residence class visas
– Resident visas – holders will be entitled to travel to New Zealand and stay indefinitely, but only enter New Zealand in line with their ‘travel conditions’. Resident visas may also be subject to other conditions, such as a requirement to invest a certain amount of money in New Zealand within a certain timeframe (for people approved under the Investor Category).
– Permanent resident visas – holders will be entitled to travel to New Zealand at any time and stay indefinitely without conditions.
* Temporary entry class visas
– Temporary visas – there will be a variety of temporary visas, for example, visitor visas, student visas and work visas (similar to the current temporary entry visas).
– Limited visas – may be granted to people who wish to come to New Zealand for an express purpose (similar to the current Limited Purpose visa).
– Interim visas – may be granted for the purpose of maintaining lawful status in New Zealand when an individual has applied for a further temporary visa and his or her application is being considered. Interim visas will come into effect in early 2011.
– Transit visas – allows a passenger to remain in transit if he or she is traveling through New Zealand to another destination. There is no change to the requirements for obtaining a transit visa under the new Act.
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 their visa. However, in some cases people may be denied entry permission, for example, if:
* They are carrying prohibited goods or substances into New Zealand.
* Adverse information about them has come to light since their visa application was approved.
* They have obtained their visa by fraudulent means or by making a false declaration.
Visa or entry permission may be ‘deemed’ for certain specific classes of people where it is not possible or appropriate to physically grant a visa. In these situations there will be no physical record and no electronic record of the visa. Deemed visas are limited to classes of people determined by Immigration New Zealand and cannot be applied for. They are most commonly used for cruise ship passengers and travelers to the Ross Dependency in Antarctica, and in relation to members of visiting armed forces.
Deemed visas will also be used for people who have a valid permit or visa when the new Act comes into force. On 29 November 2010, those existing visas and permits will be deemed to be a visa of the corresponding type under the new Act. People will not need to apply for a new visa until their current visa or permit approaches its expiry date.
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. 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.