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Unreasonable decisions by INZ on Post-Study work visa applications

Ombudsmen Act 1975
Related legislation:
Immigration Act 2009
Immigration New Zealand
Peter Boshier
Case number(s):
524384 and 533933
Issue date:

Immigration New Zealand applied an interpretation of immigration instructions not reflected in guidance to applicants - Post-Study work visa – open was granted for one year instead of three – INZ relied on an amendment circular to preclude eligibility


Two separate complaints were made to the Chief Ombudsman regarding decisions by Immigration New Zealand (INZ) to grant Post-Study work visas-open for one year rather than three years.

The cases were investigated together as they involved decisions by INZ made on the same basis – that the applications did not meet criteria set out in an FAQ, Cabinet minutes and an amendment circular.

INZ granted both complainants visas for one year rather than three years as their qualifications were not eligible according to its interpretation of its immigration instructions.

INZ advised that the immigration instructions and VisaPak guidance did not accurately capture the intent of changes to Post-Study work visa instructions which was more clearly set out in the FAQ and Cabinet minutes.

However, the Chief Ombudsman was of the opinion that the immigration instructions and VisaPak guidance were clear and that it would be ‘highly unusual’ to expect an immigration officer to look past these when making a decision.

INZ has amended the relevant immigration instructions and VisaPak guidance to accurately reflect Cabinet’s intention and extended both complainants’ visas for a further two years.

Those amendments came into effect on 16 November 2020.

INZ advised the Ombudsman that it had identified at least 498 people in a similar situation, assessed whether they had been adversely affected by its decision-making, and would contact them if they and their families might be considered for a further visa.

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