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
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
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
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.