New Zealand Law Society - Review of immigration decision processes released

Review of immigration decision processes released

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The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has released the findings of an independent review of Immigration New Zealand's Residence Deportation Liability Process.

The review was carried out by Michael Heron QC. It was prompted by the Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway's decision to cancel the deportation liability of Karel Sroubek after a review of the case prepared by Immigration New Zealand.

Although Sroubek was liability for deportation under the Immigration Act 2009, Mr Lees-Galloway exercised absolute discretion to cancel that liability.

Mr Heron says under the terms of the Act, the Minister’s decision-making power (to suspend or cancel liability) is a matter of absolute discretion. The Minister is not required to consider any particular case or, if he or she does so, to consider any particular factors, make further enquiries, or receive or consider the advice of officials.

"The issue of whether the current processes support fit for purpose decision-making necessarily involves consideration of not only the processes themselves but also who is the relevant decision-maker. That has resulted in my indirect consideration of whether it is sensible to have the Minister involved personally in decisions such as these.

"From my review I have concluded the processes and operational practices employed by INZ are sound in the current settings. INZ’s staff and its Resolutions team are well placed to consider and appropriately decide issues regarding residence deportation. INZ collects the information necessary to enable decision-makers to make informed decisions and presents that information to decision-makers appropriately and professionally," he says..

"Although I consider that there is scope for additional decision-making powers to be delegated to delegted decision-makers (DDMs) by the Minister and for Resolutions to conduct further inquiries in certain instances, I am generally of the view that INZ’s processes are robust and consistent with their legislative and Ministerial mandate."

Mr Heron says there is, however, room for improvement.

"On occasion, the current process leaves INZ and the Minister exposed to an unnecessary level of risk. In cases which go to the Minister, the processes are not completely fit for purpose because the Minister is personally involved in decision-making on complex cases without having the benefit of departmental advice or an assurance that the information upon which the Minister might rely is reliable or complete."

He makes a number of recommendations. These include:

  • Where a decision is to be made by the Minister (rather than a DDM) which has factual or legal complexities, or is unusual or novel, the Minister should request and receive advice from INZ (as and when the Minister considers necessary).
  • INZ's Resolutions team should have capability for a limited inquiry function that will enable it to check or corroborate the veracity of information provided to INZ if this is considered necessary by the decision-maker.
  • A simplified, two-stage process could be applied to criminal cases where the relevant offence is relatively minor (for example a first driving offence without any other impact).
  • Consideration should be given to shifting the DDM process in automatic liability cases (involving more serious offending) to after the IPT appeal option has been exercised (or lapsed).
  • Other process changes could be made, including sending copies of relevant evidence to a client who faces deportation, obtaining a final Summary of Facts in relation to all criminal cases, and streamlining certain administrative processes.