Casefile: Judicial Review of Immigration Minister’s decision on off-shore visa applications
06 August 2021
It has been reported in the media that an Auckland Law firm has taken the action of seeking a Judicial Review for two decisions made by the Immigration Minister. According to the reported facts – the two decisions that are sought to be reviewed are:
- the suspension of off-shore processing until February 2022.
- the decision to lapse or refund up to 50,000 off-shore visa applications.
These decisions were made in response to the ongoing Covid-19 crises and the New Zealand government’s response to it.
The Judicial Review is being sought on behalf of University of Auckland academic Michael Witbrock whose partner is in China. According to the media reports Michael and his husband has been disadvantaged by the decision to suspend offshore processing and the decision to lapse off-shore visa applications.
What is a Judicial Review?
This brings us to the question of what is a Judicial Review?
If a government agency or official has made a decision affecting you under a power granted to them by an Act, you may be able to apply to the High Court for a “judicial review”. A wide range of public-sector bodies and individual decision-makers can be challenged by judicial review, including Immigration New Zealand and the Minister of Immigration.
The procedure for a Judicial Review is complicated and should not be attempted without seeking expert legal advice.
The High Court can make orders overturning a decision of the Minister on these grounds
- A decision maker was mistaken about facts and the law
- The decision maker took into account irrelevant factors
- A decision was made for an improper purpose
- The decision was made contrary to natural justice
Recent examples of successful judicial reviews including a case where a schoolchild won the right to attend the same school as her sister.
What could this decision potentially mean for me?
The case is currently is in its early stages and Idesi Legal does not have any special insights into this case.
However should the Courts make orders against the Minister for Immigration it could lead to a different approach to off-shore visa applications. Applications which have been lapsed could be reopened or off-shore visa processing can recommence.
At the same time the Judicial Review may hold the Government’s actions to be lawful and make no orders.
Idesi Legal will be following this case with interest.