New Zealand immigrants can be denied visas for minor offences

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Under new rules, immigrants convicted in New Zealand of minor offences such as various traffic violations may not be granted further visas to remain in the country. From 26 March 2012, Immigration New Zealand said their immigration officers will now be able to decline subsequent visas for those that commit minor offences.

Rob Stevens, a spokesman for Immigration New Zealand, said it would also apply to offences such as burglary, shoplifting, drink-driving, disorderly behaviour and possessing or cultivating cannabis.

"These instructions will include any applicant who has been convicted at any time of a criminal offence in New Zealand for which the court has the power to impose a term of imprisonment of at least three months," Stevens said.

"The change means that people who have been served, or would be served, a deportation liability notice as a result of a conviction but who leave either during the 28-day appeal or before the deportation order has been served will now be able to be declined a further visa." he added. Under previous immigration rules, there was no ability to deny them a visa.

However, it is important to note that immigration officers have been told to use their discretion to grant exceptions in cases where it would be "unduly harsh" to decline a visa. The changes are part of the agency's efforts to make sure that undesirable migrants and visitors do not enter or remain in New Zealand.

The government also announced that they would begin fining airlines that do not carry out the proper immigration checks on passengers boarding flights to New Zealand.

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