29 Nov 2011

Pacific overstayers in NZ hit hard by new complaints criteria

10:22 am on 29 November 2011

The Ombudsmen's office in New Zealand is being criticised for tightening the rules on complaints from overstayers about their dealings with Immigration New Zealand's Pacific division.

Thirteen overstayers were granted residency this year after the Ombudsman ruled they had been misled by the division in 2005, with promises of jobs and residency.

Their lawyer, Richard Small, says a three-month deadline and tougher criteria agreed between the Ombudsman and Immigration New Zealand have made further complaints virtually impossible.

He says that is profoundly unfair on dozens of overstayer families who have waited more than five years for a fair hearing.

"The very people most wronged in this process, who were given misleading information, on policies that didn't actually exist and were led from pillar to post, they have some what been disposal in this process, many of them have been deported."

Richard Small says all his clients want is the same chance of a fair hearing that the Ombudsman gave to the first 13 overstayers.

Meanwhile, the office of the Ombudsmen says it is considering a request to extend the deadline for complaints from overstayers misled by Immigration New Zealand's Pacific division.