Lincoln Tan

Lincoln Tan is the New Zealand Herald’s diversity, ethnic affairs and immigration senior reporter.

Second chance for residency bids

Move follows Ombudsman's ruling of 'failure' in way Immigration implemented Pacific quota system.

Dame Beverley Wakem. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Dame Beverley Wakem. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Pacific visa applicants who failed to get permanent residency will get a second chance after an Ombudsman investigation found "systemic failures" in the way Immigration New Zealand implemented the Pacific residency quota between November 15, 2004 and March 31, 2005.

Chief Ombudsman Dame Beverley Wakem said those who believed they had not been fairly treated and met the qualification criteria could submit a new visa request.

The Pacific Access category is an annual immigration quota system giving people from Pacific nations a pathway to migrate to New Zealand each year.

The Ombudsman Office investigation was made after complaints about poor communications and inconsistencies at the way Immigration was implementing the policy.

"A common theme running through the complaints was a lack of understanding and certainty among members of the Pacific communities," Dame Beverley said.

"Complainants also believed there are inconsistencies in Immigration's decision making which deprived them of the opportunity to regularise their status at a time when Immigration appeared to be encouraging well-settled overstayers to come forward."

Immigration lawyer Richard Small said some victims of Immigration's poor implementation of the policies had been in hiding for years.

"Many have also been the victims of unlicensed immigration advisers and have left New Zealand or have been deported," said Mr Small, of Pacific Legal.

The 15-point list of criteria applicants must meet to qualify for the second chance includes having a job offer or being in employment at the time - and covers overstayers from Tonga, Samoa, Tuvalu, Kiribati and Fiji who made applications over the period and were refused.

Those who have approached the Immigration Minister's office sinceor have been deported will not be eligible.

Immigration general manager Steve McGill said that the agency had received applications from five people who met the criteria.

"Immigration will attempt to contact other people it has identified by writing to their last known address," he said.

"We will consider each request on its merit, but there is no guarantee that a visa will be granted."

- NZ Herald

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