Many people have been caught by a law which allows Immigration to try to deport residents who have committed very minor offences. It's quite easy to get into this situation and a lot harder to get out. 

There are many ways to get deported - using a false identity, violating the conditions of your work visa, becoming an over-stayer.  But there is one particularly nasty one reserved for those who have only recently got residence.  If you are convicted of an offence where the Court has the power to imprison you for 3 months or more, and the offence took place within 2 years of your first resident visa, then you can be served with a Deportation Liability Notice.

The important thing to understand is that it doesn't matter what the Court actually gives you as a penalty, as long as you are convicted.  You may only have to pay a fine.  It is what the Court could have done that is the key.  Take the example of drink-driving.  Under Section 56 Land Transport Act 1998, if you are stopped and tested for a blood alcohol level of 400 micrograms per litre or more, then the Court has the power to imprison you "for a term not exceeding 3 months".

This intersects perfectly with the power to deport mentioned above, for an offence which has a maximum penalty of "3 months or more".

Once you have a conviction like this on your record, the risk of being deported stays with you, forever.  Or, at least, until you get citizenship - but you have to be a resident for 5 years before you can apply for that. 

If you face a problem like this, it does not automatically mean that you will be deported.  There is a process which you can follow in order to keep your residence but it is not an easy task.

If you are facing a situation like then this, then you should get professional advice from an experienced immigration lawyer or licensed immigration adviser. 

It will probably cost you a bit of money, but the cost of getting things wrong is much greater - losing your residence and being forced to leave New Zealand, maybe never to return. 

Written by Michelle Carabine at 09:00




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