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Aust cancels 697 Kiwis visas for crimes

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 10/01/2017
Visa stamps on a passport. © SNPA/Ross Setford Visa stamps on a passport.

More than one in two people who had their Australian visas cancelled for breaking the law were New Zealanders, official figures have revealed.

But a report by the Australian Commonwealth Ombudsman has been highly critical of the way non-citizens including Kiwis are treated in detention before being deported.

Between January 1, 2014 and February 29, 2016 Australian authorities cancelled 1219 non-citizen visas, including those of 697 New Zealanders.

The immigration policy gives the federal government the power to cancel visas in certain circumstances, including where a non-citizen is convicted of a crime.

The ombudsman's report reveals more than 400 visa cancellations were the result of assaults and other violent crimes, and nearly 150 for drug offences.

The report highlights the plight of several New Zealanders put into immigration detention centres pending review of their visas.

One man who had been living in Queensland before being imprisoned was moved to a detention centre in Western Australia after his visa was cancelled.

He had not seen his family, including wife, four children and grandchild, in 14 months because of distance and financial constraints.

Another New Zealand man jailed for fraud revealed he intended to return to New Zealand while seeking to have his visa cancellation revoked.

His Australian partner wanted to return with him and their two children but was unable to afford passports and the man was unaware what support was available to them.

Among the recommendations, the ombudsman suggested the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs consider whether it's appropriate to continue detaining a person in an immigration detention centre.

"Particular consideration might be given to release on an appropriate visa, in light of the fact that permanent residents whose families are in Australia are unlikely to abscond," it says.

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