Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has done it again. Following the court case involving a groupd of Indian work visa holders, who were refused to board their flight back to New Zealand, INZ interviewed 32 student visa holders, and has turned around 14 student visa holders returning to New Zealand from their trips to China. Worse still, the students were only able to find their fate at the border, having travelled all the way from China. It is said that the students were identified through INZ’s ‘screening and profiling systems’ as not meeting the ‘entry requirments’. So the case comes squarely on the issue of the INZ’s statutory power, as was the previous case.
INZ has power to grant or refuse entry permission on its discretion under s 109 (1) of the Immigration Act 2009. It is made clear in the subsection (6) that the decision is judicially reviewable, which follows that the the decision has to be fair and reasonable. So the question comes down to whether the decision to refuse entry at the border was fair and reasonable in all circumstances. it was said that INZ refused entry to one of the students because he could not speak or write proper English during the interview. If this is true, surely the INZ officers at the border haven’t learnt the lesson. There is no provision allowing the INZ consider English ability for the purpose of granting entry permission. They are not there to assess someone’s English ability so that they can be ‘satisfied’ that the student visa requirements are complied with. it is far out that INZ office at the border have yet come to grips with use of their statutory discretion.
I am inclined to believe that the ‘systems’ referred by INZ include the AMS Alerts entered against the profiles of the students, who were refused entry. The alerts must have resulted from INZ’s investigation following the recent student visa scheme from china. Be that as it may, INZ cannot afford to be seen as any more arbitrary than is now.