Overstayer bill climbs to $2m
By REBECCA TODD - The Press
Last updated 05:00 17/09/2009

Removing overstayers over the past year has cost New Zealand more than $2 million.

Migrant experts warn the cost will increase as more people fall foul of the strict application of immigration laws during the recession.

In the 2008-09 financial year, 740 people who had overstayed their work visas or had their permits revoked were removed from New Zealand and 45 were deported, costing the taxpayer over $2m.

Another 905 people left voluntarily after being contacted by immigration officials.

Five years ago, 1207 people were removed, two deported and 1202 left voluntarily.

Migrant website Move2NZ co-director Mike Bell said removal numbers were likely to increase as migrants were being placed in impossible situations by the inflexible and inconsistent application of immigration rules.

He said some of those being removed at great cost to the country were the skilled workers New Zealand needed.

In July, the Schoenberger family, from Germany, were removed at the taxpayer's expense after the father, Joerg, lost his job as a painter and his trade was taken off the skills-shortage list.

An Eastern European family has been staying with Bell's family for 15 weeks as they fight to stay in New Zealand. The father's trade, a fitter and turner, is still on the long-term skills-shortage list. However, his work permit was revoked when he lost his job last December.

Lane Neave Lawyers immigration partner Mark Williams expected immigration-fraud cases to rise along with unemployment as "desperate times create desperate measures".

From here.