Articles

Dishonesty in Visa Application Process

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Every New Zealand Visa Application has a set of prescribed criteria which the applicant has to meet in order to be eligible to apply under the specific category.  One of the general criteria is the applicant's character.  Applicants for all visas must be of good character and not pose a potential security risk to New Zealand1.

Character Checks

Character checks must be carried out for:

  1. applicants who are aged 17 and over applying for a residence class visa or temporary entry class visa, if they intend to stay in New Zealand for 24 months and longer2; or
  2. other applicants if the immigration officer decides it is necessary.

Residence visa applicants must obtain a police or similar certificate from their country of citizenship and each country they lived in for 12 months or more in the last 10 years.  Temporary entry class visa applicants must obtain a police or similar certificate from their country of citizenship and each country they lived in for five years or more since attaining the age of 17 years.3

Most applicants assume that they sufficiently prove their character and meet the criteria by providing the required police or similar certificate showing no conviction.  However, the character criteria goes deeper than that.

False, Misleading, Forged Information

Under Immigration Instructions A5.25(i) and A5.45(b) a residence or temporary entry class visa will not be granted to an applicant who, in the course of applying for a New Zealand Visa, has made any statement or provided any information, evidence or submission that was false, misleading or forged, or withheld material information.

It is a common occurrence, especially in the family category visas, that applicants who are preparing their application without any professional advice provide untrue information or withhold information because they fear their application might be declined if they reveal the complete truth.  These applicants usually believe that if their application is declined on the basis of withholding information or providing untrue information they will be able to apply for the same visa in due course again.

What they do not realise is that if their application is declined on the basis of Instructions A5.25(i), A5.45(b) or other similar instructions4, Immigration New Zealand will hold a record of their "dishonesty" and will assess this record against the applicant's character requirements.

A Real Life Example

Two holders of a temporary entry class visa ("Adam" and "Eve") started their romantic relationship while in New Zealand.  After a very short period of time, out of practicality rather than intention to make their relationship more serious, they decided to move in together.  At this time Adam was applying for a Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa.  Neither Adam nor Eve believed their relationship would last and they decided not to include Eve in Adam's application as his partner.  Adam stated that he is "single".  The couple continued living together and soon discovered that Eve is pregnant.  This changed their perspective of seriousness of their relationship.  They decided they wanted to stay in New Zealand as a family.  Adam was expecting to receive his Resident Visa soon and did not want to "complicate the application" by including Eve as his partner at this point in time.  He soon received his Resident Visa and Eve immediately applied for a Partnership-Based Work Visa claiming that she and Adam had been in a 'genuine and stable' relationship ever since they moved in together.  Eve was granted the work visa in due course and had the baby a few months after.  After one year of Adam's and Eve's relationship commencing Eve applied for a Partnership-Based Resident Visa claiming again that she had been in a genuine and stable relationship with Adam ever since they moved in together.

Adam and Eve were surprised to receive a letter from Immigration New Zealand alleging that Eve had intentionally provided misleading information about her relationship. The immigration officer was prepared to decline Eve's application under Immigration Instruction F2.5(e). Eve was given an opportunity to explain why she was not included in Adam's Application for Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa as Adam's partner.

If Immigration New Zealand concluded that Eve had an intention to mislead, not only Eve's resident visa application would have been declined, she would have from then on been considered to be dishonest in her application process and she would not be likely to ever succeed with any future Resident Visa application.  Adam would likely encounter problems with his Permanent Resident Visa Application because he too would be marked as 'dishonest' since he applied for his Resident Visa as being "single" and then he supported Eve's Resident Visa Application claiming that he was in a relationship with Eve at the same time as he was "single" for the purpose of his own application.

Luckily for Adam and Eve, Immigration New Zealand accepted their argument.  However, Immigration New Zealand did not grant Eve a resident visa based on her application, it rather retrospectively included Eve in Adam's already approved Skilled Migrant Resident Visa Application.  Eve had to newly prove her level of English by providing test scores, or pre-purchase an English tuition course, as required from partners of Skilled Migrant Category Principal Applicants, but not required from partners of holders of a Resident Visa.

Please direct any enquiries to:

Anet Tarabova on (09) 966 3604 (atarabova@mcveaghfleming.co.nz) from our Albany Office.

© McVeagh Fleming 2017

This article is published for general information purposes only.  Legal content in this article is necessarily of a general nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice.  If you require specific legal advice in respect of any legal issue, you should always engage a lawyer to provide that advice. 

____________________________

1    Immigration Instruction A5.1
2
   
The 24 months include time already spent in New Zealand prior to the application
3
   
Immigration Instruction A5.5
4
   
such as F2.5(e)

 

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