Character issues

All applicants are required to demonstrate that they are of good character to secure a visa. For those who cannot, we can assist to navigate this area of compliance to secure visas.

Professional assistance is recommended where individuals have a character issue that will potentially lead to a decline of a visa application. If this applies to you, contact us for an initial view on your situation.

If our firm believes that you will not be able to obtain a special direction or character waiver to resolve the issue that view will be provided to you up front before instructions are received. If we believe we can assist, we will explain the options you have, the chance of success, and the costs associated with engaging us to take over to exhaust the option(s) identified.

No one can guarantee success in this area. Anyone who purports to do so either does not know what they are talking about, or are misleading you. Our guarantee is that we will be honest, and if you wish to pursue an option the case we put to Immigration will be the best submission that can be prepared by anyone in the market, based on your fact pattern.

The character requirement is (generally) classified into two areas:

  1. Applicants who will not be issued with a temporary or residence class visa and therefore need a special direction from the Minister of Immigration to qualify; and
  2. Applicants who will not normally be issued with a temporary or residence class visa unless a character waiver is granted by the visa office processing their application.

Applicants who will not be issued a temporary or residence class visa

We have successfully assisted many migrants to secure a visa by way of a special direction from the Minister of Immigration where the individual cannot be granted a temporary or residence class visa by standard visa processing and/or the grant of a character waiver by a branch office of Immigration New Zealand.

Applicants cannot secure a visa and need a special direction from the Minister of Immigration for these issues:

  1. Have been convicted of an offence for which the person has been sentenced to imprisonment for a term of 5 years or more, or for an indeterminate period capable of running for 5 years or more; or
  2. In the preceding 10 years has been convicted of an offence for which the person has been sentenced to imprisonment for a term of 12 months or more, or for an indeterminate period capable of running for 12 months or more; or
  3. Is subject to a period of prohibition on entry to New Zealand under section 179 (previously deported from New Zealand) or 180 (previous deportation from New Zealand where costs for repatriation have not been repaid); or
  4. Has been removed or deported from New Zealand under any enactment; or
  5. Excluded from New Zealand under any enactment; or
  6. Has been removed, excluded, or deported from another country.

If any of the above criteria apply, contact us. You need professional assistance. We will provide an honest opinion on the options available, and the chances of success to secure a special direction of the Minister of Immigration to resolve the issue.


Applicants normally ineligible for a temporary class visa unless granted a character waiver

We have assisted many applicants to obtain a character waiver to secure a temporary visa where they are not able to meet the character requirement from offshore, as well as applicants applying for new temporary visas onshore.

Applicants cannot secure a temporary visa and need a character waiver to secure one for these issues:

  1. Has been convicted of an offence against the immigration, citizenship or passport laws of any country; or
  2. 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; or
  3. Has been charged with a serious offence, is under investigation for a serious offence, or is wanted for questioning for a serious offence.
  4. Has been convicted at any time of any offence for which they have been imprisoned; or an offence in New Zealand for which the court has the power to impose imprisonment for a term of three months or more; or
  5. In support of any application by another person for a New Zealand visa, has made any statement or provided any information, evidence or submission that was false, misleading or forged.

The most common issue we deal with under these points are applicants in New Zealand who have been convicted of an offence while holding a temporary visa. While in certain circumstances those individuals can also be issued a Deportation Liability Notice, for relatively ”standard” offences such as driving with excess breath of blood alcohol, Immigration will typically deal with the character issue in the next temporary visa extension request.

In this type of situation Immigration New Zealand cannot automatically decline the visa application, they must decide whether the person should be issued a character waiver. In doing so the decision maker must (generally) consider whether the applicant’s reason for travel to New Zealand and any surrounding circumstances are compelling enough to justify making an exception to (waiving) the character requirement taking into account the public interest; and in the case of the provision of (or withholding) information whether the applicant is able to supply a reasonable and credible explanation or other evidence indicating that in supplying or withholding such information they did not intend to deceive Immigration New Zealand.

If you are looking to secure or extend your visa and the above character point(s) apply, contact us. We have a proven track record of drafting substantial character waiver submissions to secure visas in these types of situations, as well as trouble shooting potential convictions on shore to secure discharges without conviction to avoid falling within these provisions.


Applicants normally ineligible for a residence class visa unless granted a character waiver

This area of non character compliance is relatively common, and we resolve these character issues on a weekly basis; from applicants who have an isolated historical conviction, to those who have had multiple convictions.
Applicants who will not normally be issued with a residence class visa unless granted a character waiver include any person who has been:

  1. convicted at any time of any offence against the immigration, citizenship or passport laws of any country; or
  2. convicted at any time of any offence involving prohibited drugs; or
  3. convicted at any time of any offence involving dishonesty; or
  4. convicted at any time of any offence of a sexual nature; or
  5. convicted at any time of any offence for which they were sentenced to a term of imprisonment (whether the sentence was of immediate effect or was deferred or was suspended in whole or in part); or
  6. convicted (whether in New Zealand or not) of an offence committed at any time when the applicant was in New Zealand unlawfully or was the holder of a temporary visa being an offence for which the Court has power to impose imprisonment for a term of 3 months or more; or
  7. convicted at any time of any offence involving violence; or
  8. convicted at any time during the last five years, of an offence (including a traffic offence), involving dangerous driving, driving having consumed excessive alcohol (including drunk driving and driving with a blood or breath alcohol content in excess of a specified limit) or driving having consumed drugs; or
  9. 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; or
  10. in a public speech or public comments, or public broadcast, or in publicly distributing or publishing a document:
    1. argues that one race or colour is inherently inferior or superior to another race or colour, or
    2. used language intended to encourage hostility or ill will against any person or group of persons on the basis of colour, race or ethnic or national origins of that person or group; or
  11. has been, or is, a member of (or adheres or has adhered to) any organisation or group of people which (at the time of the person’s membership or adherence) had objectives or principles based on:
    1. hostility against people or groups of people on the basis of colour, race, or ethnic or national origins, or
    2. an assumption that persons of a particular race or colour are inherently inferior or superior to other races or colours; or
  12. in support of any application by another person for a New Zealand visa, has made any statement or provided any information, evidence or submission that was false, misleading or forged.

It is very important to also note that the above section applies to offences which are current on Police Certificates or even offences which have been expunged or cancelled due to the passage of time.

Our firm has been required to resolve a number of cases where an individual believed that as the record had been expunged there was no need to disclose the conviction itself, to their detriment. In some instances, the actual failure to disclose a conviction is deemed more serious than the conviction itself. If in doubt, it is certainly advisable to disclose the conviction (historical or otherwise).

If an individual has a conviction (or a number of convictions) meaning that this particular part of policy applies, the application cannot be automatically declined. Instead, the applicant will be invited to tender submissions to allow Immigration New Zealand to determine as to whether they are prepared to waive the character requirement, and grant the applicant New Zealand residence.

Over many years our firm has successfully obtained a significant number of character waivers, and in short, our advice is that applicants should not dismiss their eligibility for New Zealand residence due to having a conviction or convictions unless they receive a professional opinion from a specialist service provider such as our firm, who will be able to provide an informed opinion as to the chances of securing a character waiver, as we deal with these cases on a weekly basis.

Immigration officers are not able to automatically decline a residence visa application based on character grounds until they have considered surrounding circumstances of the application (in its entirety) and whether or not they believe the circumstances of the particular individual’s application are compelling enough to justify waiving the good character requirement.

The circumstances that Immigration New Zealand will take into consideration when assessing a character waiver include (but are not limited to) the following factors:

  1. if applicable, the seriousness of the offence (generally indicated by the term of imprisonment or size of the fine);
  2. whether there is more than one offence;
  3. if applicable, the significance of the false, misleading or forged information provided, or information withheld, and whether the applicant is able to supply a reasonable and credible explanation or other evidence indicating that in supplying or withholding such information they did not intend to deceive the NZIS;
  4. how long ago the relevant event occurred;
    whether the applicant has any immediate family lawfully and permanently in New Zealand;
  5. whether the applicant has some strong emotional or physical tie to New Zealand;
  6. whether the applicant’s potential contribution to New Zealand will be significant.

The key to a successful character waiver is providing a very detailed and sound submission (with supporting objective documentation) forming a compelling case to justify a decision to waive the character requirement. Our ability to do so is well within our comfort zone.