What is Section 61?
Quite a few clients ask us this question and it is an important piece of information to know. (Section 61) refers to Section 61 of the Immigration Act 2009 which is the main legislation setting out New Zealand’s immigration policy.
Section 61 of the Act basically provides an avenue for people who are in New Zealand ‘unlawfully’ to get back onto a lawful visa.
Who needs Section 61?
Basically anyone in NZ without a current visa is unlawful and needs to use Section 61 to become lawful again. If your temporary (work, study, visitor) visa expires and you have not yet left New Zealand or received a new visa then technically you are unlawfully in New Zealand. If you have already applied for a new visa before the expiry date, then you may be issued an ‘interim visa’ so would not need to apply under s61.
Being unlawfully in NZ is a very serious thing, as you are unable to work or study, and you are liable to be deported at any time. Therefore, it is very important that you have a valid visa. If you have already been issued a deportation order then it is too late – you cannot apply under section 61. There may be other options however, so talk to us immediately if this is you.
How does Section 61 work?
Section 61 is a request not an application; therefore no visa specific criteria are applicable. It is basically at the discretion of Immigration New Zealand whether to grant this. There are certain factors that INZ will consider in this process so you must be aware of these and make the right arguments and supply the right evidence to be successful.
How can we help with a Section 61 request?
Because it is a discretionary power, it is very important that you put the strongest argument forward to INZ as to why you should be allowed to remain in New Zealand. There are certain arguments that we can make which will make your chances of success better.
There is no limit to the amount of applications you can make, so even if you have already been declined, we may be able to help you. In many cases we have been able to turn such declines around through understanding of the issues and good supporting evidence.
We have a proven track record of helping our clients gain a valid visa once again. We thoroughly explore your personal circumstances, and strongly advocate your case to Immigration New Zealand, and explain to them why you are a special case.
We understand how stressful it can be to suddenly find yourself without a valid visa, and are here to help make sure that you have the best possible representation. We will do everything in our power to help you, so please feel free to talk to us about your situation.
The moral of the story is: “prevention is better than cure” – do not let your visa expire in the first place. We make sure our clients do not fall into this trap. However we understand that sometimes it is unavoidable and mistakes happen. If so, remember to come and see us immediately as time is of the essence in Section 61 cases.
Until next time,