Green Party Immigration spokesperson Keith Locke has welcomed the amnesty for some long-term overstayers, but says the coverage should have been broader.
“It’s great that many longer-term overstayers, who are now good New Zealanders, will be able to regularise their position and move towards permanent residence,” said Mr Locke.
“However, there are other hard-working and law-abiding overstayers, who’ve been here for three or four years, who will miss out because they don’t happen to be married to New Zealanders, or have New Zealand-born children.
“They’re in a horrible bind. Under a law passed by National last year, they will lose all appeal rights as of October 1, and can then be instantly deported,” he said.
“This would be unjust, because they may well qualify for residence under a new policy the government is currently working on, the government’s new Pacific access immigration policy, or its broadening of humanitarian or family qualifications for residence.
Mr Locke said it would be silly to kick out overstayers now, some of who may well qualify when the government’s Pacific access policy, or it’s more family-centred immigration criteria, are announced in a few months.
“We should also rid the rules of unnecessarily punitive elements, one of which is the five year penalty on visa re-applications for all those served with removal orders.
“The government should also reduce the $500 per person visa application fee, which might stop poor families, with several children, applying under the amnesty provisions,” said Mr Locke.