By Lincoln Tan
Immigrants convicted in New Zealand of minor offences such as drink-driving may not be granted further visas to remain in the country.
Immigration NZ has made amendments to its operational instructions, effective today, to enable its officers to decline subsequent visas.
Rob Stevens, the agency's service support general manager, said it would apply to offences such as burglary, shoplifting, drink-driving, disorderly behaviour and possessing or cultivating cannabis.
"These instructions will include any applicant who has been convicted at any time of a criminal offence in New Zealand for which the court has the power to impose a term of imprisonment of at least three months," Mr Stevens said. It will also make it tougher for visa applicants who left the country before a deportation order was served.
"The change means that people who have been served, or would be served, a deportation liability notice as a result of a conviction but who leave either during the 28-day appeal or before the deportation order has been served will now be able to be declined a further visa."
There was no scope under current immigration instructions to deny them a visa, Mr Stevens said.
However, immigration officers have been told they have the discretion to grant a character waiver in cases where it would be "unduly harsh" to decline a visa.
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