Eminem was granted a visa to come to New Zealand for his Wellington concert only one week before he landed because Immigration NZ (INZ) had to take time to assess his "character issues".

The tight timeframe appears to have made Eminem's team nervous, according to an email trail to INZ that was released to The Herald under the Official Information Act (OIA).

INZ manager Michael Carley was unable to go into detail about what "character issues" entailed because of "legal and privacy reasons", but in general all those who apply for a visitor visa "must be of good character, not pose a security risk and not threaten New Zealand's international reputation".

Rapper Eminem in full voice. Photo / AP
Rapper Eminem in full voice. Photo / AP

OIA emails show that Marshall Mathers – AKA Eminem – received his visitor visa, which allowed him to perform in front of 45,000 people in Wellington, just over a week before he took the stage in the capital.

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His visa was approved on February 21 – his show was on March 2 and he landed in Wellington on February 28.

Carley said INZ received Eminem's visa application on February 1.

Officials at Immigration New Zealand's (INZ) visitor visa department in Beijing had "undertaken to process these [the visa application] urgently," OIA emails show.

Marshall Mathers - aka Eminem - received his visitor visa just over a week before he took the stage in the capital. Photo / Jeremy Deputat
Marshall Mathers - aka Eminem - received his visitor visa just over a week before he took the stage in the capital. Photo / Jeremy Deputat

"We appreciate that everyone is anxious and Beijing is trying their best to finalise these applications."

Another email, dated February 19 – just nine days before Eminem was scheduled to land in Wellington – also outlined the concern about timing.

"The tour commences in Australia tomorrow with the applicants scheduled to arrive in New Zealand on 28 February. All getting anxious that visas have not been approved as yet," an email to INZ officials said.

The sender of the email, however, is redacted but is likely to be a tour organiser, a promoter or perhaps a member of Eminem's entourage.

Asked why it apparently took so long to grant the visa, Carley said: "INZ does not consider this application took a long time to process given that there were character issues involved and a full and detailed assessment was needed".

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The Herald asked for details, but was declined because of "legal and privacy reasons".

However, INZ's website says applicants for all visitor visas: "must be of good character, not pose a security risk and not threaten New Zealand's international reputation".

"People with serious character issues can't be granted any visa or entry permission, except in very special circumstances."

It also says a visa can't be granted if the applicant has ever been convicted of an offence for which they were sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 5 years or more.

In 2001, the Mathers pleaded no contest in court to carrying a concealed weapon. He was sentenced to probation but avoided any jail time.

Eminem flew to New Zealand from Perth, Australia, as part of his Rapture tour.

He performed in front of more than 45,000 fans at Westpac Stadium – the show set an attendance record for the venue.

He played just one show in New Zealand – in 2014, Eminem performed at Western Springs in Auckland in front of 55,000 fans.