Overstaying a visa expiry

There is an express obligation under the Immigration Act 2009 for all unlawful people to leave New Zealand. The legal obligation to leave New Zealand before a temporary visa expires is clearly communicated on visas.

22 January 2023
2 minute read

People who overstay their visa, regardless of nationality, must appreciate that if there are no special circumstances that call for the granting of a visa, they are expected to leave New Zealand or face deportation. The visa holder must ensure that their visa is current.

There are a number of ways Immigration New Zealand (INZ) is alerted to people overstaying their visa. These include information from members of the public, routine compliance checks, and information from the New Zealand Police.

INZ records all arrivals and departures from New Zealand and are aware when someone has not departed before their visa has expired.

People who overstay their visa may be more vulnerable to exploitation. Employers are committing an offence by employing people who have overstayed their visa.

Estimated number of people who overstayed their visa

INZ's latest estimate from 2017 indicates that there were approximately 14,000 migrants without valid visas in New Zealand at that time.

The accuracy of data about those who have overstayed their visa is limited, as the data is influenced by several factors including inconsistencies between border movement and visa validity, historical data entry issues and missing and inaccurate border movements or both.

Most people who have overstayed their visa are aged between 25 and 64. The majority were previously on a visitor visa (60%). Pacific nationals (Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Tuvalu and Kiribati) make up around a third of the total estimate.

Estimated top 10 nationalities of those who have overstayed their visa

People who overstayed their visa ranked by nationality
Ranking Country Estimate
1. Tonga 2,498
2. Samoa 1,549
3. China 1,529
4. India 1,310
5. Malaysia 790
6. Great Britain 589
7. Fiji 434
8. Tuvalu 358
9. South Korea 323
10. Thailand 184
11. Other 4,331
Total - 13,895

INZ encouraged people who are unlawfully in New Zealand to contact themo discuss their circumstances and determine what the best option is for them. They can contact INZ on free phone:

0508 55 88 55

If an individual has any information about the whereabouts of people unlawfully in New Zealand they are encouraged to contact INZ. INZ is grateful for the public’s assistance in helping to locate anyone unlawfully in New Zealand.