If You’re an Overstayer in New Zealand, What Should You Do?

Are you an overstayer in NZ? If so what can you do to legalise your situation here?


Firstly, it is important to understand that as an overstayer you have no rights under the Immigration Act. The only thing you can do is make application and request for your situation to be considered. Such applications are made under section 61 of the Immigration Act.


Under that section, Immigration NZ (INZ) do not have to do anything: they can refuse to look at your application (refuse to consider) or they can review it and still decide to refuse to grant you a visa (decline to grant). Most importantly they do not have to follow policy or give you a reason. So, they can seem to be quite unreasonable even if you think you are a deserving case.


Making repeated applications under section 61 when there have already been several declines will receive a “refuse to consider” response, meaning they will not even look at anything sent in. Then it is very difficult to turn things around.


Secondly, if you have had a deportation liability notice (DNL) issued against you then you have no rights at all. Any application will be immediately rejected. Your only option is to leave the country before you are deported.


What are your options? Unfortunately, they do not improve much. If you are just an overstayer and no DNL has been served and if you are married or in partnership with a NZ citizen or residence holder, your chances of getting a hearing improve a bit. Likewise, if you have a work skill or qualification that is in demand in NZ. But Immigration will very likely take the view that there is no reason why you cannot leave the country and make a visa application from off shore.


I have seen this repeatedly where clients have to leave NZ, re-apply, then return. It can mean a forced stay overseas for several months while your application is processed with the added costs of airfares, living and probably no income


To avoid leaving NZ, you will have to demonstrate to INZ that there are compelling reasons for you to stay here while they consider your application. The financial hardship of leaving and not being able to work is not a reason they will take into account.


You will also have to provide a good explanation of why you let your immigration status here lapse.


Of course, all of this is underpinned by standard requirements: that you have good character (no serious police record) and there are no major health issues. If either of those apply then you have a lot of problems.


In deciding what to do, it should be remembered that if deported then you cannot re-apply for any visa for up to 5 years and will have to repay the costs of the deportation and any medical care received whilst in NZ. It makes more sense to leave voluntarily before they detain and deport you.


If you are in an overstayer situation then it is vital that you seek the advice of a professional and not try to solve it yourself. It is all too easy for applicants to make errors in their applications, fail to tell Immigration what is important or worse misrepresent the facts .


Borderlaw have a lot of experience in gaining visas for overstayers even after they have had prior refusals. Call us today to discuss your situation.