14 Dec 2010

Lawyer argues for amnesty for Pacific overstayers

9:47 pm on 14 December 2010

A lawyer who represents overstayers in New Zealand says there is a compelling argument for amnesty.

The parliamentary report on New Zealand's relationship with the Pacific recommends that the Immigration Service give sympathetic consideration to granting residency for otherwise law abiding overstayers, who are well settled, and who voluntarily approach Immigration.

Immigration lawyer, Richard Small, says his office often sees teenagers who have not been to school for 8 years because of their immigration status.

Mr Small says the great untold story of overstaying in New Zealand is that of the unlicensed consultant.

"Two thirds to three-quarters of our clients had - at some point - eligibility either for long-term permits or even residence. They put their money, passports and trust in immigration consultants. They were betrayed in that trust, let down and given a deaf ear when they tried to explain that when they were arrested."

Richard Small says giving amnesty to overstayers saves the country a tonne of social problems.