Thursday, December 9

Couple denied New Zealand residency due to Chinese intelligence links

A couple who established a business in New Zealand have been described as a threat to national security due to their ties to Chinese intelligence services.

Flags of China and New Zealand

Flags of China and New Zealand
Photo: 123RF

They denied they were spies, but were turned down for residency and lost an immigration appeal.

The Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS) told immigration officials that the man and his wife “almost certainly” assisted the People’s Republic of China Intelligence Services (PRCIS) and had deliberately concealed the amount of contact they made. kept with PRCIS.

“Therefore, NZSIS assesses that [their] The presence in New Zealand presents a lasting national security risk, as we cannot rule out that [they] you can try to help PRCIS again in the future. “

Immigration New Zealand (INZ), which was evaluating the couple’s residency application in the commercial entrepreneur category, declared them “excluded”, thus ruling them out of any additional visa.

They asked the Immigration and Protection Court to hear their appeal, which focused on whether the decision could be reversed if it was based on classified information.

He stated that there was no right of appeal to the court as an excluded person.

INZ wrote to the man last year raising concerns about his application to renew his entrepreneur work visa, as it assessed whether he should be classified as an excluded person, stating that ‘a person cannot be granted a visa to whom the Minister (or an appropriate delegate immigration officer) had reason to believe that he is or is likely to be a threat or a security risk. ‘

The court heard that the man, who has two children, opened a business in 2016 and applied for residency two years later.

He has been interviewed twice in 2019 by the NZSIS on a voluntary basis.

Their attorney said INZ had not provided evidence that they had a current or planned engagement with PRCIS, or that the couple were involved in any ongoing activity relevant to New Zealand’s national security.

The court recorded that his previous involvement with PRCIS had been a “legitimate work requirement and did not involve any form of espionage.”

“He had explained to NZSIS that, in his previous job for a private company in China, he had had legitimate contact with PRCIS because he had helped company employees abroad obtain visas to enter China for business purposes.” the court said. he said in his decision.

“This involved passing copies of employees’ CVs, passports and other details to PRCIS as part of the visa screening process, to facilitate the issuance of visas.

“[He] had provided his mobile phone to the NZSIS, which contained the names and telephone contact details of four PRCIS staff with whom [he] he had had contact through his work in China. He had not been in contact with them since arriving in New Zealand. No New Zealand citizen had been involved and there were no issues related to New Zealand security. “

The lawyer said they were involved in the Chinese Communist Party, that they were not employed in any role with PRCIS, and noted that the man’s wife, who had not been interviewed, appeared to be considered a security risk just because of their relationship.

‘Lasting risk to national security’

The man’s provisional visa expired in March this year and he was in New Zealand illegally when the court made its decision, which said that an excluded person cannot be granted a visa unless they follow a special direction and none have been granted. address in this case.

INZ rejected his application for residency in March this year, writing: “An immigration officer may take into consideration the advice and information provided by other appropriate government agencies. Regarding the security risk, it is entirely appropriate to consider the views of the NZSIS. As stated in our letter to you, NZSIS has assessed your … presence in New Zealand as posing a ‘permanent risk to national security.’

His attorney argued that since the decision was based on classified information, the case could be appealed, and that INZ had made its decision under a specific section to avoid legal proceedings for decisions that have been based

on classified information.

The court ruled that the decision was based on an assessment by the immigration officer that there is “reason to believe” that the appellant constitutes a security threat or risk. “It is a matter of judgment that must be issued on the basis of the available evidence. The Law specifically prohibits the Court from hearing these appeals and evaluating the correctness or procedural fairness of those decisions: in those cases, the appeal consists of a judicial review before the High Court of the officer’s decision “.

RNZ has approached the man’s attorney and asked if they will seek a judicial review.

The full decision can be found here.

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