August 2015
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In This Issue
My Dinner with the Minister
Is INZ Turning People Away at the Borders?
Introduction to James Turner
Stephan du Plessis saying goodbye
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"I have been dealing with Laurent LAw for over 5 years and every time found their services extremely professional. Simon applied for my NZ residency and got it granted. Simon also provided vital guidance throughout the whole process to ensure a positive outcome. I have been recommending Laurent Law to my family and friends ever since. A piece of advise you receive at their office if often 'outside the box' and a number of times I witnessed an alternative solution offered to their clients that I know is in contrast to other immigration advisors. 
My mother had her residency case successfuly processed by Stephan. Again, full attention to the case, very precise work, follow ups on the process and residency granted as a result. A friend of mine had various Business Visa applications processed by Simon, successful every time.
Those are just highlights of services these people do and do very well. I also have friends who had trouble re-newing their expired visas and Laura Law had that sorted. So if you ask me where to go to get an expert advise on your or someone else's immigration matters, I would confidently suggest to see Simon and the team at Laurent Law."

"...I appreciate the outstanding customer service that your staff provided during my whole residency application process. I visited your office with a hope to get a positive outcome for my residence application. Your staff was very attentive and helpful. The employees I interacted with, especially Stephan Du Plessis and Simon Laurent, seemed genuinely interested in helping me to achieve my goals, which I have been aiming to achieve for a long time. Because of your efforts, I was able to find exactly what I needed and able to submit all the documentation required for my application...I will definitely recommend your services to others. You have put together a great team that makes customers feel respected and valued. I look forward to working with your team again in the future."




Laurent Law Barristers & Solicitors
1st Floor, Target Building, 93 Dominion Rd
Mt Eden, Auckland, 1024, New Zealand
Ph.  +64-9-630-0411;  Fax  +64-9-630-0412

Every day we solve immigration issues created by the rules around New Zealand visas, and also by the way that those rules are used against people by Immigration NZ. What seems like "simple" visa applications are becoming more complicated all the time. We have highlighted some common issues in our law firm blog, and invite you to take a look.  
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Yours sincerely
Simon Laurent
LaurentLaw Barristers & Solicitors
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My Dinner with the Minister
On Monday night last week I hosted a  Law Society  dinner with the Minister of Immigration as special guest.  It was good timing, as a number of issues were ripe for discussion.
Front and centre was Hon. Michael Woodhouse's announcement on Saturday of a set of policy changes intended to encourage migration to areas outside of Auckland.  This includes:
  • increasing the "outside Auckland" bonus points available in a Skilled Migrant Category ("SMC") Residence application from 10 to 30; and
  • increasing from 20 to 40 the points to be claimed in an Entrepreneur Work Visa Expression of Interest, to encourage migrants to set up businesses outside Auckland.
The initiative was also trumpeted by the Prime Minister, as reported by the New Zealand Herald  the same day.
Naturally, someone in the audience challenged Mr Woodhouse that this was all a knee-jerk reaction to the recent arguments about whether Chinese buyers are hyperinflating the Auckland housing market.  In particular, the disclosure of the surnames of Asian home buyers has inflamed passions about this topic  in the last few weeks and has no doubt done the Government no favours.   He responded smoothly that policy changes of this nature simply don't come into effect that quickly, owing to the slow pace of bureaucratic change.  Nor did the Prime Minister  suggest that this was seen as some kind of silver bullet for the Auckland housing market.
I have to say that I'm ambivalent about this one.   The package of regional migration incentives has probably been in the works for quite a while.  Most people in the business would agree that the unbalanced preference of migration toward Auckland has been an issue for some time.  After all, there has been an "outside Auckland" bonus in the SMC points system for years precisely to encourage people to move south of the Bombay Hills.  But the timing of its release is hardly accidental.  It is quite possible that it got shunted to the top of the Policy queue as the National Government came under increasing pressure  to do something to stop massive price inflation of Auckland property values.
In a pre-dinner conversation with some of us, the Minister took the stance that what was forcing prices higher in Auckland was a mismatch between supply and demand, and that what was needed was a whole lot more housing stock to ease the problem.  That is of course a commonly shared view, and one the Government has backed up with its efforts to open up land in the Auckland isthmus to developers on a large scale.
However, again I both agree and disagree, and with due respect to Mr Woodhouse.  I agree that there is a major supply problem, and that more houses would help to keep prices from spiralling out of reach of even fairly well-off New Zealand first home buyers.  But, if the price spiral is driven by foreign demand, and from China in particular, we can never build enough to meet the demand.  If the wealthiest one per cent of China's population decides they want to migrate, then that amounts to some 14 million people looking for a home outside of the People's Republic.  If even a fraction of those eye up New Zealand, then it is little wonder that the auction rooms are full.
So, one solution is a complete ban on foreign ownership.  People will always find a way around that, perhaps by getting a Resident or Citizen to simply act as their agent.  On the other hand, there is now increasing talk  of imposing a tax on any foreign buyers of New Zealand property.  That could either be some kind of stamp duty charged every time someone buys or sells, or (maybe preferable) an annual tax on the land, a bit like paying Council rates.  I suggest that if you really want to dampen down foreign demand then this tax will have to be a stiff one, and regularly applied, so that it becomes unattractive to "buy and hold" with the prospect that capital gain will eventually wipe out the one-off tax you suffered when you bought the place.
There is another dynamic here that the numbers simply may not fix.  We hear it time and again - New Zealand is just a better, cleaner, safer place to live.  A lot of people around the world may be willing to pay a high price for a slice of Godzone Country.  And even on a slanted playing field, we may not be able to outbid them.
Is INZ Turning People Away at the Borders? 

If there is a trend for Immigration New Zealand to refuse foreign nationals the ability to board planes based on a concern about their intentions, this is not surprising.  We were alerted to this risk in a case from 2014 where Immigration New Zealand told someone over the phone that they should not bother booking a flight because they would be turned back.
In that case INZ is able to revoke someone's visa waiver status, pretty much on the spot, and we found that there is no guarantee that it can be reinstated.  Visa waivers are available for nationals of many countries (North America and Europe in particular) who do not need to apply for a visa in order to visit.
The situation where border officers are turning people away as they try to board is a little different.  This involves Advance Passenger Processing (APP), where they are obliged by law to provide information to INZ about people planning to travel.  The decision to refuse boarding actually lies with INZ officials, but it may be done through an "automated electronic notification", and it could be that if the border official declares that they have their suspicions then INZ effectively rubber-stamps this finding.  We don't have enough information to be sure about this and it could well be happening with other countries as well. So far we have seen this trend emerging with South Africans travelling to New Zealand and we encourage other nationals to speak up in the comments below if they've experienced something similar.
This APP decision-making is not cancellation of visa-waiver status, but the result will probably be the same; if the person tries to travel again then an Alert may pop up against their name because of the previous incident and they would not be able to travel.
As we have previously warned in a recent blog post , no matter where you're coming from, if your plans to visit New Zealand might be more than just for sight-seeing - and particularly if you plan to come for a longer time than usual - you should seriously consider making a formal visa application.  This may be frustrating for some, but it is better than earning yourself a system Alert and a record for being a potential risk, which is difficult to remove once it goes against your name. Best to close the stable door before that horse bolts.

Introduction to James Turner 


Our newest staff member comes in the form of James Turner. He joins us as a Staff Solicitor. The Laurent Law Office is happy to have him on board.


James attended the University of Auckland and holds a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and Bachelor of Arts. Before joining Laurent Law he previously worked as a Licensed Immigration Consultant for a well-known immigration practice in Auckland CBD and before that, at the Immigration Advisers Authority. James brings a wealth of immigration experience to the Laurent Law team.


James relishes the challenge of difficult immigration cases and thoroughly enjoys the rewarding experience of achieving results for his clients. He finds the dynamics of interacting with Government departments, such as Immigration New Zealand, to be particularly interesting, requiring not only technical legal knowledge and skill but persuasive ability as well.


James welcomes questions and looks forward to meeting you soon.

Stephan du Plessis Saying Goodbye

I would like to thank Simon Laurent and every one of my work colleagues over the past 7 years for the opportunity to work with them at Laurent Law. I have seen the firm grow and expand over the years. Laurent Law has become a prominent name in the New Zealand Immigration industry and I have no doubt that it will continue to grow and make an impression under the leadership and wisdom of legends such as Simon Laurent and Bill Milnes.
I have recently resigned from Laurent Law to take up a role at an Immigration Company in Hamilton where I will start on Monday 31 August 2015.
I would like to wish all the members of Laurent Law all of the best for the future. Apart from Simon and Bill, I am also thinking of Samantha Minny, Marinda du Toit and the newest solicitor, James Turner. I have learned much from all of you.
Warmest Regards
Stephan du Plessis

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