Immigration New Zealand encouraging immigrants to become illegal overstayers while they grapple with processing visas shows how out of control the department has become and Minister Iain Lees-Galloway is asleep at the wheel, National’s Immigration spokesperson Stuart Smith says.
“Iain Lees-Galloway is overseeing a department encouraging people to breach immigration law, of which they are there to protect, all because they can’t get visas processed on time. This is a very stressful and uncertain time for immigrants.
“But, unsurprisingly, Iain Lees-Galloways seems to be completely unaware of the potential ramifications if immigrants became overstayers.
“When questioned on the matter, the Minister had no idea that once an immigrant resides in New Zealand unlawfully, their unlawful status becomes a factor in all future visa applications in New Zealand or overseas, regardless of whether Immigration New Zealand (INZ) encouraged them to reside unlawfully in New Zealand.
“New Zealand is just one of a number of countries, like Australia, Canada and the United States, where visa applicants are required to declare if they have previously been in another country unlawfully. If you have an unlawful status it can be very difficult to travel overseas, and in some cases prevented altogether.
“The Minister doesn’t seem to understand the severity of the situation.
“The Minister needs to take all steps to ensure those who were encouraged to stay here unlawfully will not have their immigration status impacted if applying for visas in any other country.
“Iain Lees-Galloway needs to step up and act like a Minister. He needs to start demonstrating that he takes his role seriously and pay attention to detail. So far he hasn’t performed and New Zealanders deserve better.”