A church pastor has been sentenced to home detention for lying to Immigration New Zealand, but says he was only acting "for the love of God".
Faaofo Fomai and his church, the Everlasting Gospel Church, had both pleaded guilty to four charges of supplying information to an immigration officer knowing it to be false or misleading. They were sentenced in Hastings District Court on Wednesday. Fomai was sentenced to six months' home detention. The church was fined $2000. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of seven years' prison or a fine of $100,000.
The charges related to Fomai's dealings with a Samoan police officer, Uasi Siatulau, whom he promised a job as a youth pastor in his Hawke's Bay church. Fomai is the reverend minister of the church, which since mid-2013 held Sunday services for a small number of Samoan families in Flaxmere.
In 2015 Fomai offered Samoan policeman Uasi Siatulau work as a Youth Pastor at the church and sponsored him for a work visa as a religious worker. This was despite Fomai knowing that the charity could not afford to employ Siatulau. In order to secure the visa for Siatulau, Fomai wrote to Immigration NZ to say the church charity would pay him $700 to $800 a fortnight.
Siatulau wanted to bring his wife and four children with him to New Zealand but was told by INZ that he would need to earn more than the charity was paying. So Fomai wrote to INZ saying the salary had increased to $1350 to $1400 a fortnight.
The family was granted two-year work visas. When the family arrived in New Zealand they were housed at Fomai's home address.
It soon became apparent that Fomai and the charity would not pay the family, and Siatulau began working in an orchard in order to provide for his family. At the end of October, 2015 the family left Fomai's house and stopped attending the church. Siatulau continued working and the family had another child.
When INZ became aware of the situation in mid-2016, it advised Siatulau that he would have to resume his work as a youth pastor. He did so, but a month later Fomai told INZ that Siatulau was no longer suitable to be employed.
In June 2016 INZ made him liable for deportation. When interviewed by INZ, Fomai admitted sending letters to INZ saying the charity would pay the salary, but he also said the charity had actually never any intention of paying a salary. Fomai apologised for his actions and, according to a summary of facts, said that he had acted in the way he had "for the love of God", and he wanted to help people come to work.
Siatulau and his family were deported in April this year after an unsuccessful appeal to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal. INZ assistant general manager Peter Devoy said the prosecution showed that the organisation took this type of offending seriously.
"The overriding principle is that migrant workers have the same employment rights as all other workers in New Zealand and we will not hesitate to prosecute in cases where warranted," Devoy said.
To read the actual article, click here.
It has been quite confusing for anyone who wants to immigrate to New Zealand when he or she hears "resident visa" and "permanent resident visa". Are they same or different?
Everyone who wants to immigrate to NZ applies for "resident visa" first. None applies for "permanent resident visa" straight. You need to get the resident visa first then when you fulfil some conditions you can apply for the permanent resident visa.
When you are granted a resident visa, you may stay in NZ as long as you want, in fact permanently. The visa does not expire nor need to be renewed. You will have the same rights and privileges as an NZ citizen except for a few exceptions. For example, you can not vote until you live in NZ for at least 12 months. You will not be able to apply for a social benefit for the two years.
As a resident visa holder, you pay the same tax rates as any NZ citizens do. You can buy houses and access to the education system as NZ citizens, so you don't pay international student fee.
Hence when you apply for Skill Migrant Category Resident Visa or Investor 1 or 2 Visa category, when your application is approved, you will be issued with a resident visa. The visa label will be placed on your passport (see below). If your visa is granted off-shore, it will have two important conditions.
The first condition is "First Entry Before" date. It means you and your family members who are included in your visa application must enter NZ at least once before the "First Entry Before" date stated in the label, which would be 12 months after the visa was granted. If you forgot to enter NZ before this important date, your resident visa would lapse. It means you will lose your resident visa entitlement. If your resident visa is granted and issued on-shore, your resident visa label will not have a "First Entry Before" date. It is because you are already in NZ.
The second condition is "Expiry Date Travel". It does not mean your visa will expire after the "Expiry Date Travel". It means your travel conditions will expire on the "Expiry Date Travel". There are cases the travel conditions will expire. If you were granted the resident visa off-shore, it would usually expire after two years from the date of your first arrival. If the resident visa was issued on-shore, two years after your resident visa is granted.
What does it mean by "Travel Condition"?
It gives you the right to enter and exit New Zealand as a resident of New Zealand. If you leave New Zealand and want to return to New Zealand after your travel condition's expired, your entry into NZ could be refused it is because you didn't meet the "travel condition" and your resident visa lapses.
For investor 2 visa category, there will be some additional conditions. For example, you need to apply for Expression of Interest first. When your EOI is selected from the pool, you have 4 months to prepare and submit all the documents. Once all the information matches, you will get "Approval in Principle" which allows you to transfer the investment you indicated in your application to New Zealand within 12 months. When you complete the transfer the fund to NZ, you and your family member who included in the application will get the resident visas.
Permanent Resident Visa
Permanent Resident Visa holders will enjoy the same rights and privileges as Resident Visa holders. However, the main difference is that Permanent Resident Visa's travel condition does not expire (see below). It means you can come and go as you like. You could live overseas for many years and come back and live in New Zealand as NZ citizen.
Regarding being able to live in NZ permanently, the resident visa holders and the permanent resident visa holders enjoy the same rights.
How do you get the Permanent Resident Visa?
For normal resident visa holders, you can apply for a permanent resident visa at the end of the two years of your initial resident visa. However, you will need to meet one of five criteria. The easiest one is you spent 184 days in New Zealand in "each" of the two years from the date you first entered to New Zealand.
This "184 days" does not have to be consecutive and can be broken up and added to make up the "184 days" per each year. For example, if you entered NZ on 1 April 2017, you must spend 184 days in New Zealand between 1/4/2017 and 31/3/2018. And another 184 days from 1/4/2018 to 31/3/2019.
This rule applies differently to the resident visa holders from Investor 2 category. Depending on where you invest the amount, the minimum stay in NZ differs. For example, if you invest the amount in high growth area including new residential property development, you can only spend 438 days over 4 years. It means you can travel to NZ once in the first 2 years to renew your "travel condition" for the next two years. However, you do not need to be in New Zealand for 184 days per year for the 4 years. You can stay out of NZ for 2 years and 9 months and come to New Zealand for the remaining period to make up the 438 days to meet one of the requirements of getting a permanent resident visa. Otherwise, you will need to spend "184 days" per each year for the 4 year period.
The permanent visa holder in this category can apply for NZ citizen after one year of holding the permanent resident visa.
As we, Immigration Trust wrote about it about 6 weeks ago, it is happening.
Immigration New Zealand is likely to close 12 of its 17 overseas offices, as well as those in central Auckland and Henderson. The move is expected to cut overseas visa officer positions from 650 to 400, while domestic roles are expected to increase from 690 to 960.
INZ general manager Steve Stuart said the moves were a result of more visa processing being done online and in New Zealand. The changes will not affect how far visa applicants abroad have to travel to make applications, because the affected offices dealt with assessments of applications, rather than the applications themselves, and the 39 visa application centres (VACs) operated by INZ were unaffected.
The proposals were forecast to reduce the cost of visa administration by more than $20 million a year by the 2021-22 financial year.
It would cut the number of additional visa officers required to keep up with demand by roughly 100. "Applicants have been able to apply for student visas online since August 2014, and for work and visitor visas since June 2015. Applications for visas not currently available online – such as residence – can be posted," Stuart said. "Feedback from staff and stakeholders is being considered before any changes are made. A decision is expected before the end of next month."
If the closure of the Auckland Central and Henderson offices went ahead, staff would be offered roles in Manukau. Stuart said it was fiscally prudent to move offices away from city centres whenever practicable, and the additional workload would be picked up by boosting numbers at the five remaining offices in Manukau, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Porirua and Christchurch.
Under the proposals, the processing centres in Beijing, Mumbai, and three offices in the Pacific would remain, while those in Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Bangkok, Moscow, New Delhi, Pretoria and Shanghai would close.
Processing would also cease in four other offices – Manila, Washington DC, London and Dubai – where Stuart said a presence would be retained to gather market intelligence, manage risk, carry out verification activities and maintain relationships with key partner countries.
The Government is considering tighter regulation on immigration agents who deal with foreign students.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says if students deported over their dodgy documents are telling the truth about being duped, the Government has an obligation to "make sure their reputations are not besmirched by the actions of others".
Earlier this year a group of Indian students facing deportation sought refuge in an Auckland church, claiming they had no idea their documents had been forged. They were eventually kicked out, with then-Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse refusing to grant any leniency. "Effectively those decisions have already been made. [The students] have sought ministerial intervention; that has been declined," he said in February. "They're unlawful and they need to leave New Zealand."
Many of the approximately 150 students have since struggled to find work back home. "We feel like all the doors are being closed for us," Hafiz Syed told Newshub at the weekend. "We don't know which way to go now, and we really can't find any jobs for us now."
Ms Ardern told The AM Show on Monday "if they knew what was going on, then we should treat the case as such" "If they didn't, we should also have regard they were unwittingly drawn in by individuals who acted as agents and acted illegally."
The Ombudsman is looking into the Indian students' cases. A spokesman for new Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway told Newshub he's waiting on the outcome of its investigation before making a decision. After that, new rules may follow.
"Successive Governments, both Labour and National, have looked whether or not we need to individually regulate the way those agents work," said Ms Ardern. "When it comes to agents who work solely with students, both successive Governments have chosen not to. I think we need to have a look at that."
Many low-value courses marketed to foreign students are likely to be dropped, with Ms Ardern expecting the cuts to make up about a third of the Government's target of 30,000 fewer immigrants annually.
Combined with the dodgy documents scandal that's affected Indian students, Ms Ardern says they're not a good look for New Zealand.
"When it comes to export education, we want a well-run, thriving export education sector where New Zealand's reputation is enhanced and people get value for money. I think New Zealanders would want that too. We don't want people taking advantage of dodgy courses."
To read the actual article, visit here.
Immigration NZ made 'serious error' in denying autistic Bangladeshi boy residency, tribunal rules
Immigration New Zealand made a mistake when it denied an autistic six-year-old boy from Bangladesh residency with his family, a tribunal has ruled.
A "serious procedural error" meant the severity of the boy's autism — the reason his application was rejected — may have been overstated, the Immigration and Protection Tribunal found in March.
Documents released today showed that while one medical assessor had deemed the child likely to be a financial burden on New Zealand's education system, a paediatrician and a paediatric neurologist who evaluated his disorder after the ruling said the boy was high functioning with no more "significant health needs" than other children his age.
Tribunal member Sharon Pearson cancelled Immigration NZ's decision to deny the boy a visa as it had failed to take into account the second medical opinion required by law for such cases.
The boy arrived in New Zealand in 2012 on a visitor visa as the dependant of his work visa-holding mother.
He had been receiving Ministry of Education funding to attend a school for children with special needs since 2015. That the boy could have been eligible for this $15,000 per year until he was 21 implied he "was likely to impose significant costs and/or demands on New Zealand's education services," according to Immigration New Zealand.
His application for residency was denied in 2016 due to the medical assessor's opinion that he lacked "an acceptable standard of health" and would therefore require the extra government funding.
The boy's parents appealed the decision armed with medical opinions contesting the boy's prognosis.
A paediatrician's report said the child had in fact been diagnosed with "high functioning autism spectrum disorder" with no evidence of intellectual disability, and that he had shown "encouraging" progress at school.
"It was not anticipated that he would have any significant health needs compared to other children his age," the report read.
A paediatric neurologist noted that "individuals with high functioning autism do progress well and often do not need any medical, neurological, or pharmaceutical input".
The tribunal ruled that Immigration NZ would have to conduct a fresh assessment of the boy's autism — taking into account more than one medical assessor's view — to ensure a "fair and proper process" in determining his eligibility for residency.
To read the actual article, check here.
Due to various reasons, NZ government decided to temporarily close the category October last year. However, based on our conversation with multiple government officials, it would be reintroduced in the future with more restriction and better control over how the parent will access to social services including a hospital.
If you would like to update with the category, please leave your comment here so you will be notified when we make an announcement here.
Under pressure from his mother in Fiji and his sick sister in Hamilton, a Palmerston North man committed immigration fraud by pretending to be his mother's nephew.
But unlike his mother, he will not go to jail for his crimes.
Mohammad Khan was sentenced in the Palmerston North District Court to 10 months' home detention for three charges of immigration fraud. They all relate to his mother, Kamla Wati, who was sentenced to 19 months' jail in January for her part in the fraud. Wati visited New Zealand three times between 2009 and 2012, but was declined residency on character grounds because of her history of shoplifting.
She was also denied a visa eight times, but managed to get back into New Zealand in 2015 by using a false passport she sourced in Fiji under the alias Rukhmanny.
She got Khan to fill in a character reference for her on some of the failed applications, and he did so again for the fraudulent application. He covered his tracks by saying he was his mother's nephew.
Prosecution lawyer Greg La Hood, from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, said Khan's offending was premeditated as he knew his mother had been declined eight times.
The pair worked together, and Khan knew it was a serious offence because he had to swear his character reference in front of a Justice of the Peace, La Hood said. "The reality is this is fraud, no matter what context you look at it in. It impacts the integrity of the immigration system, which relies heavily on honest disclosures. If people come in fraudulently, it impacts people who are honestly trying to come in and are unable to do so."
Defence lawyer Tony Thackery said Khan was put under pressure by his mother and sister. His sister was suffering from mental illness, and his mother wanted to get into New Zealand to look after her, Thackery said. "Yes, he helped his mother. She put the whole thing together to get into New Zealand and called on her son to assist with sponsorship." It was hard to show true remorse with charges such as immigration fraud because there was no tangible victim, Thackery said.
Judge Jim Large read from a pre-sentence report, in which the writer said Khan had commented he was in trouble for signing a "stupid piece of paper". "Immigration documents are not stupid pieces of paper," the judge said. "It was totally wrong of you. People in all sorts of roles in ministries and government departments rely on people to make honest declarations, and people who make false declarations do attack the integrity of the system."
The pressure from family and the fact he had young children were taken into account when calculating Khan's final sentence, the judge said.
To read the actual article, click here.
Immigration NZ will take their 4 fold test on any partnership-based visa. It is onus for applicants to prove their relationship is genuine and long-lasting to meet the test. Immigration Trust has encountered several cases that clients think their relationship is genuine so nothing they need to prove.
Unfortunately, it is wrong. You must prepare every detail to convince your case officer. One of the cases we dealt had to include more than 200 pages communications between a couple.
Even though you are getting married legally, having your family over to NZ to attend the ceremony is not easy. Immigration Officers work mostly based on the checklist. They do not know your personal stories, and your case is one of many they need to deal with daily based. It is your (our) job to explain and convince them. Immigration Trust managed many cases like this successfully knowing how each case is being accessed.
'Spectre of deportation' looms over wedding after family of Vietnamese bride barred from NZ"
A Vietnamese woman will walk down the aisle alone after her family were declined visitor visas to New Zealand in a move labelled "nasty and vindictive" by her husband-to-be.
Pham Thu Thuong Nguyen, known as Thuong, and her fiance, Kirk Robertson, known as Seamus, are getting married on Saturday at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Oxford, North Canterbury. But her mother, two sisters, brother-in-law and niece will not be able to make the ceremony after Immigration New Zealand (INZ) declined their visa applications on the grounds they had limited incentives to return to Vietnam.
"She was distraught after hearing her family wouldn't be coming," Robertson said, speaking from his family home where he and Thuong have been living since December. "It's the only day in her life she's ever going to get married and because of some bureaucratic glitch they are disallowing her the opportunity to have her family here for her wedding. That is cruel and vindictive."
The couple have had their issues with INZ. In September, the department gave Thuong 42 days to leave the country after declining her application for a year-long Partner of a New Zealander Work Visa. The visa was declined by INZ because it was not satisfied Robertson and Thuong were living together in a genuine and stable relationship, despite more than 100 pages of submissions in support from friends and family. The couple started a relationship in 2016 and had been living together since December after Robertson moved back from Australia to look after his terminally ill father and the family business after the death of his mother.
Because they were staying with his 77-year-old father, Angus Robertson, Seamus Robertson said they had no rental agreement or utilities bills to help prove they lived together. "The irony is 100 years ago [this week] my grandfather stood on the fields of Passchendaele and fought for New Zealand's freedom, and now some immigration official is saying his grandson is not trustworthy," he said.
Robertson was convinced INZ had declined visas for Thuong's family because of her own visa situation. "It's meant to be the happiest day of our lives and they're making sure that the spectre of deportation looms over her head."
INZ area manager Sarah Clifford said while Thuong's immigration status was considered during the assessment of her family's visa applications, it did not play a significant factor. Their visas were declined on "bona-fide grounds due to limited incentives to return home", she said.
"All five live in a high-risk area of Vietnam, have no previous travel history to any countries, declared low employment or self-employment in Vietnam and limited evidence of personal funds or savings." Angus Robertson said the decision was insulting.
He personally sponsored each of Thuong's relatives' visa applications, which included a guarantee he would cover any enforcement costs should they not meet their visa requirements. "What they're saying is they want me to be responsible, then they turn around and say 'we won't let these people in because we think they're gong to stay and work, which means you Mr Robertson are crap'," he said. "They won't bloody stay, they want to come for the wedding then go home."
The 77-year-old had also offered to pay for all their costs during the trip to New Zealand, a repayment of sorts after the engagement party Thuong's family had put on in Vietnam in April. "I'm a taxpayer, I pay my taxes, they're public servants who are supposed to do their job properly and they haven't done it. So that just made me wild," he said.
Seamus Robertson and Thuong had applied for ministerial intervention in her case, and the couple were also appealing the decision through the Ombudsman. Clifford said the ministerial intervention request would be considered by a senior INZ official. "INZ can confirm that no compliance action will take place until the request has been decided," she said.
- The Press
See read the actual article appeared in here.
Off-shore Entrepreneur Work Visa (EWV) Application will not be kindly advised to include any missing information from 17th October 2017.
Current process time for each EWV can be way over one year as it takes around 10 months for the case to be allocated to a Business Immigration Specialist.
Business Migration Brach (BMB) has been offering an opportunity to comment on information even when it was outside of the definition of PPI materials (E7.15.1) before a decision being made and send an update to its clients’ applications. This may have been abused and slowed down the entire process as some applicants or advisers poorly prepared their application and submitted first to wait to be guided what they have missed by INZ.
To reduce this unacceptable delay, BMB in Wellington has done the process review recently. The change will ensure that the Business Immigration Specialists will spend less time correcting poorly prepared application, especially the ones made off-shore and will make the decision based on what has been presented.
Therefore it is crucially important for any offshore EWV applications to be properly prepared and submitted to BMB.
For those principal applicants who are onshore, there will be no change to BMB's the current process.
Simon Park, the founder & CEO of Immigration Trust shared his view on immigration via www.stuff.co.nz
Influx of immigrants unlikely to slow as National takes pole position.
A "layed back, relaxed, chilled out" lifestyle is why Vikar Singh loves New Zealand. Filling a skills shortage was his ticket in. As National stands to keep the helm for another three years, Singh is left appreciating that if he applied today, his path to residency may have been tougher.
As of August 28, migrants like him who came in under the Skilled Migrant Category no longer earn points for qualifying in an area of "absolute skills shortage", or for experience and qualifications in future growth areas, such as ICT and creative industries. This wasn't the case in 2014 when Singh took up a position in IT.
Hopeful immigrants will still be breathing a sigh of relief, however, with the alternative of a Labour-led government likely to have resulted in crackdowns of up to 30,000 fewer new arrivals annually.
New Zealand has experienced record high immigrant numbers in recent years. Statistics NZ recorded net migration totalled 72,305 in the year to June 30, a figure which had been steadily increasing since late 2012.
With the election looking sewn up, National's changes to the Essential Skills work visa for temporary migrants and the Skilled Migrant Category policy are here to stay, as is the growth in numbers.
An Immigration spokesman said the Government's changes were not designed to affect the number of migrants coming in, but to improve the skill levels of permanent settlers and ensure lower-skilled temporary migrants were "clear about their future prospects in New Zealand".
One of Labour's key reasons for putting the squeeze on immigration was in order to fill jobs with New Zealanders, rather than immigrants.
The changes to the Essential Skills Work Visa policy was National's answer to this, being designed to keep New Zealanders were at the front of the queue for jobs while preserving the temporary labour necessary to keep economic growth ticking over. Those classified as lower-skilled, who earned less than the 85 per cent of the median wage, can only stay in the country for three years, after which they must spend 12 months outside New Zealand before they can be granted another visa in a lower-skilled role. Previously, partners and children could obtain work and student visas. Today, partners and children will need to meet the requirements for a visa in their own right.
For Simon Park, director of the Immigration Trust, the crackdown was not only a politically savvy move, but a smart one, with the dependents of many immigrants creating additional strain on education and health systems. However, despite the official line touting the new rules as upping quality without cutting numbers, Park said the result would be a decrease.
Figures from May showed there were just over 38,000 Essential Skills visa holders, and by setting the mid-skilled remuneration threshold at 85 per cent of the New Zealand median wage is expected to result in between 9700 and 11,800 of them classified as lower-skilled, all of whom will be covered by the new rule limiting stays to three years.
Singh was particularly concerned for those in the hospitality industry - which many migrants came to New Zealand to study - who he said would feel the sting of the new bands particularly strongly.
"People who are earning less than we get in IT will suffer," he said. "Immigrants can never be seen as a liability - we are always an asset to a country. We always contribute."
In addition, seasonal workers will have their visas limited to the length of their work, rather than 12 months.
- Sunday Star Times