Convicted man loses right to be NZ citizen
A man has been stripped of New Zealand citizenship after hiding convictions for robbery and firearms charges in the United States.
He came to New Zealand on a visitor’s permit, obtained residence and then citizenship.
He repeatedly failed to disclose he was jailed for two years after being convicted of robbery and shooting at “an inhabited dwelling/vehicle”.
An investigation by the Department of Internal Affairs uncovered the truth but the man initially denied the convictions, or being in the United States. Eventually, he confessed.
His excuse was an immigration adviser told him he did not have to disclose the convictions because his criminal record was “expunged”.
However, Peter Dunne, then the Minister of Internal Affairs, made an order to revoke his citizenship on the advice of his department.
The man — who has interim name suppression — appealed to the High Court on the grounds he was simply following advice of an immigration consultant.
In rejecting the appeal, Justice Patricia Courtney said there were sufficient grounds for the Minister’s decision.
“It is perfectly clear from [his] own statements and from the documents he did deliberately conceal the relevant information. No particular level of education or knowledge of the law was needed to answer the straightforward questions about previous convictions.”
The fact his criminal record was “expunged” before making his citizenship application was irrelevant, said the High Court judge.
This was because citizenship requires proof of meeting residency requirements — and the man had not disclosed his convictions on two visa forms.
Justice Courtney said: “If [the man] himself was unaware of the misstatements in the residence application as he claims, residence was still procured through the wilful concealment of relevant information.
“It follows that [he] was not lawfully in New Zealand when he made the citizenship application and therefore could not have satisfied the minimum residency requirements at the time he applied for citizenship.”