Con­victed man loses right to be NZ cit­i­zen

Herald on Sunday - - THIS WEEK - By Jared Sav­age

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.”

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