The Cabinet at its meeting on Thursday last week confirmed that the government will be reviewing the Immigration Act 2011.
In a press release the Minister for Immigration, Hon Crossley Tatui says the movement of people during COVID 19 has remarkably affected the efficient implementation of immigration laws revealing some gaps in the current legislation. The extended pandemic had impacted the Niue economy and peoples’ lives like never before.
“There are organizational gaps in the current Immigration Act, which do not fairly reflect the national interest of Niue. Accordingly, we need a check and balance system to accommodate better the interests of key parties, including the Immigration Office , sponsors, immigrants, village councils, the Judiciary, and the Executive government” says Minister Tatui.
Kim Ray Vaha, the Chief Immigration Officer stated that there had been an increase in the number of complaints lodged with the Immigration office from the official sponsors, employers, immigrants concerned and the general public.
“Covid 19 has presented a host of unforeseen issues that unfortunately no one could have predicted mainly due to the rigid travel restrictions and inflexible flight schedules” says Mr Vaha.
Such issues include stranded immigrants with expired visas who cannot leave Niue without a guaranteed flight connection in New Zealand to their home countries, which has also prompted the Immigration office to apply leniency on humanitarian grounds, including allow immigrants temporary employment so they can earn a decent living.
Minister Tatui added that immigrants play a crucial professional and technical role in Niue’s development and growth over many years through helping to achieve the island’s national plans and goals.
The review will include the regulations and interim policies to guide the lawful entry, reside and departure of immigrants from Niue.