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'Character' and its impact on immigration status

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is sounding a warning to migrants, that running afoul of the law may see them leaving the country prematurely.

19 April 2024
2 minute read

Immigration officers are concerned by the number of temporary migrants committing crime seemingly not aware of the implications for their immigration status in New Zealand.

Deportation may be the outcome for migrants who commit crime in New Zealand. For serious criminal offenders, it is often the only option, once their custodial sentence is served.

What may be perceived as a minor offence or misdemeanour back home, can have serious consequences here.

MBIE’s General Manager Immigration Compliance and Investigations, Steve Watson, says in some areas across the country, increasing numbers of migrant workers in construction, tourism and hospitality are facing alcohol related charges and court appearances. He has a message for them.

“If you commit an offence, it may affect your ability to remain in the country.”

He says offenders are often unaware of the consequences of what they may see as minor matters.

“And they are shocked when we tell them that committing a crime may mean an early plane ride home,” adds Mr Watson.

However, he says that immigration officers work with migrants to achieve the best outcome for them and New Zealand.

The decision to deport is made by looking at a total picture of an individual’s circumstances.

This may include:

  • what the criminal offence is
  • how long they have been in New Zealand
  • whether they have got family in New Zealand
  • what their job is
  • the skill set of the individual, and
  • whether there are any humanitarian factors present which relate to New Zealand’s international obligations.

“We compare the risks of their offending with the value they bring to New Zealand, and balance that against a careful assessment of their character,” says Mr Watson.

“Deportation may affect their ability to return to New Zealand and potentially their ability to visit other countries as well.”

Check our criminal conviction page to learn more about the impact of crime on peoples’ ability to come to New Zealand.

Criminal convictions

Further information about deportation can be found here.


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