Immigration New Zealand has clarified its official instructions after it unlawfully paused visa processing of a group of Afghan nationals after misinterpreting its policy

Immigration New Zealand has amended the wording of its operational manual following a landmark judgment by the New Zealand High Court last week that found it unlawfully stopped processing visa applications of Afghan nationals citing Covid border closures last year.

Justice Francis Cooke found Immigration NZ wrongly assumed that if the Afghan nationals were granted residency visas under the Refugee Family Support Category, they would not be able to enter the country because of border closures. The agency also incorrectly denied Afghan nationals Critical Purpose Visitor Visas after misinterpreting the humanitarian exception contained in its operational manual. 

The judgment affected about 70 Afghan nationals.

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