Where can I find all the immigration laws and rules?
The laws and other rules that will be relevant for any immigration issue you might have are found in a number of places:
- Immigration laws – The Immigration Act 2009 and various sets of immigration regulations contain the key laws dealing with coming to New Zealand and staying here. However, these usually don’t set out the specific requirements for getting a particular type of visa – those requirements are usually contained in policies made by the government .The immigration laws deal mostly with the processes for making decisions and with issues like what appeal rights you might have if you want to challenge one of Immigration New Zealand’s decisions.
- Immigration policies – Many of the key immigration rules that will affect you, including the grounds on which Immigration New Zealand will decide whether or not to grant you a visa, are contained in government policies – which the Immigration Act calls “instructions”. Policies can be changed much more easily and more often than laws. You can read these policies in Immigration NZ’s “Operational Manual” . Operational Manual, rather than to the Immigration Act or immigration regulations, you’ll know that the rule is based on government policy, not laws made by Parliament.
Finding specific Immigration NZ policies in their Operational Manual:
The immigration laws allow the government to put their specific immigration policies into the form of “Instructions”. Immigration New Zealand publishes these instructions in its Operational Manual.
What different types of visa are there?
The two main classes of visa are Temporary Entry Class Visas, which allow you to work, study or visit here for a limited time, and Residence Class Visas, which let you live here permanently.
Here’s how the immigration laws formally break down the different types of visa:
Temporary Entry Class Visas
- Temporary Visas – Immigration New Zealand divides these into Work Visas, Student Visas and Visitor Visas.
- Limited Visas – These let you be here only for the particular purpose allowed by the visa – for example, to get medical treatment.
- Interim Visas – If you’ve applied for a new Temporary Visa, Immigration NZ can decide to grant you an Interim Visa so that you keep your lawful immigration status while your application is being processed.
Residence Class Visas
- Resident Visa – This is the first stage of getting New Zealand residence. The “Resident Visa” lets you live and work here indefinitely, but there are still some travel restrictions for two years. After two years you can apply for a “Permanent Resident Visa”.
- Permanent Resident Visa – This lets you live and work in New Zealand permanently, and there are now no travel restrictions, so you can leave and return to New Zealand whenever you like.
Another type of visa – a Transit Visa – lets you be in New Zealand legally at the airport for up to 24 hours while you’re on your way to somewhere else.
Who makes immigration decisions?
The government agency that makes decisions about visas and entry to New Zealand is Immigration New Zealand, which is a part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. The Immigration NZ staff who make the decisions are called Immigration Officers, although some types of decisions have to be made by Immigration NZ managers. A few decisions are made by the Minister of Immigration personally.
Decisions about claims for refugee status are made by a separate part of Immigration NZ, called the Refugee Status Branch. The staff who make these decisions are called Refugee and Protection Officers. They can’t make decisions about visas and other immigration issues, in the same way that Immigration Officers can’t make decisions about refugee status and other refugee issues.