A lot of people need our help because they have received a letter from Immigration New Zealand (INZ) identifying problems with their visa application.
We also have a lot of people come to us because INZ has sent them a letter saying that their visa has been declined.
This is very stressful. What can you do to fix the problem or prevent it happening?
We have listed some top tips to help deal with receiving one of these letters.
1. Get help before you submit the application
This may seem obvious, but if you have any criminal convictions, health concerns or any previous visa problems, get help from an experienced immigration lawyer before you start your application.
Getting help, from the beginning, may prevent you from ever receiving such a letter. At worse, even if your lawyer cannot stop this happening, he or she will have prepared your application very well and explained the potential problem to you. This should mean you have documents ready to try to address INZ’s concerns, and well in advance.
It is also often cheaper to get help from the beginning, before a problem arises, than it is to pay a lawyer try and fix a problem after it has happened.
2. If you know there might be a problem, tell INZ about it from the start
Your application will be processed faster if you are honest and try to address any concerns that INZ might have from the start. For example, if you know you have a conviction, tell INZ about it in your application. If you have had a visa declined in the past, mention it in your new application. If you are applying for a work visa based on a job offer, make sure provide a full employment agreement that includes all the terms and conditions and confirms you will be working at least 30 hours per week.
3. If you do get a letter advising of concerns, be careful about the deadline
INZ have a lot of applications to consider, so Immigration Officers need to decide them as fast as possible. This is why INZ sets deadlines. These deadlines can be as little as two working days.
It is important to respond to INZ before the deadline. If you can’t, you must contact INZ and explain why you can’t respond in time. INZ might be able to extend the deadline depending on your reasons. If you don’t respond in time, your application is very likely to be declined.
4. If your application is declined, check whether you can have it reconsidered and also check your appeal rights
INZ can decide to decline a visa application, without writing to you first. INZ believes that its policies are publicly available. Therefore, sometimes an Immigration Officer will decide that he or she does not need to explain a problem to you or give you a chance to sort it out. The Immigration Officer will just decline your application
If your visa has not yet expired, you may be able to ask for the application to be reconsidered. However, if the application did not meet INZ’s policy requirements, then this may not be a good idea as INZ does not need to consider new documents. You may just waste more time and not get the decision you need. It could be better to submit a new application that does meet requirements.
If your visa has expired, depending on your circumstances, you may be able to appeal to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal. However, in many cases, your time to appeal will expire 42 days after your last visa expired. This includes from when your interim visa expires. If you cannot return home and you are thinking of appealing a visa decline, you should contact a lawyer and start preparing your appeal as soon as possible. Preparing an appeal takes time and you may need to prepare a lot of documents.
If you or an employee have visa problems, it is best to get advice as early as possible. Please contact a member of our immigration team to discuss your options.