A5.5 Character checks
See also Immigration (Visa, Entry Permission, and Related Matters) Regulations 2010 Regs 5(2)(d)(iii), 6(2)(d)(iv), 10(2)(e)(iii)
- Character checks must be carried out for the following categories of applicant:
- those aged 17 and over applying for residence class visas; and
- those aged 17 and over applying for temporary entry class visas who intend to stay in New Zealand for 24 months or longer; and
- other applicants for temporary entry class visas who warrant a character check if the immigration officer decides it is necessary.
Note: the 24-month period in A5.5(a)(ii) above includes time already spent in New Zealand prior to the application being made.
- It is a mandatory requirement (see R2.40) for first time applicants for a residence class visa aged 17 and over to obtain a police or similar certificate from:
- the applicant's country of citizenship; and
- each country in which the applicant has lived for 12 months or more (whether on one visit or intermittently) in the last 10 years (but see A5.10.1).
Applicants for a further residence class visa under RV2 or RV4 will not usually need to submit a police or similar certificate, unless specifically asked to by an immigration officer. Applicants for a further residence class visa applying under any other category are required to submit a police or similar certificate as if they were applying for residence for the first time.
Note: the requirement in A5.5(b) above does not apply to Australian citizens, holders of a current Australian permanent residence visa and holders of a current Australian resident return visa, applying for a resident visa at an immigration control area.
- If required, applicants aged 17 and over applying for a temporary entry class visa must obtain a police or similar certificate from:
- their country of citizenship; and
- from any country in which they have lived for five or more years (whether on one visit or intermittently) since attaining the age of 17 years.
- Despite (c) above, student visa applicants do not have to provide a police or similar certificate until they are aged 20 or over if they:
- held a student visa when they turned 17; and
- have held consecutive student visas (or interim visas with study conditions) since the date they turned 17; and
- are applying for a further student visa.
- Despite (c) above, applicants for a Supplementary Seasonal Employment (SSE) visa for the 2020/21 season (ie for SSE visas granted with an expiry date on or before 30 June 2021) do not have to provide a police or similar certificate.
- Despite (d) and (e) above, a police or similar certificate is required if an immigration officer decides it is necessary.
A5.5.1 Impact of the Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Act 2004
- When assessing whether a person meets an applicable character requirement, an immigration officer must be aware that New Zealand convictions may be covered by the Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Act 2004 (Clean Slate Scheme) and that if so, an eligible individual is not required to declare New Zealand convictions.
- If Immigration New Zealand (INZ) holds any information that a person has these New Zealand convictions, and that person is an eligible individual under the Clean Slate Scheme, this information cannot be used when assessing whether the person meets the applicable character requirements.
- The information referred to in (b), above, includes any prior police certificates, any information INZ holds in its records (including its Application Management System), and any other information which may have been gathered from a public source.
- If a person is an eligible individual under the Clean Slate Scheme, immigration officers cannot, under any circumstances, request or require that an individual disregard the effect of the Clean Slate Scheme when answering questions about his or her New Zealand criminal record, or disregard the effect of the Clean Slate Scheme and disclose, or give consent to the disclosure of, his or her criminal record. Doing so is an offence under the Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Act 2004. However, if the persons voluntarily declares criminal convictions that are subject to the Clean Slate Scheme, this information can be used to assess whether the person meets the applicable character requirements.