Introduction to Section 61 of the New Zealand Immigration Act

Section 61 is pivotal in the New Zealand Immigration Act, particularly for those unlawfully. This provision becomes especially relevant for individuals who have either overstayed their visa or whose visa has expired. Understanding the nuances of Section 61 is essential and often necessary for those looking to rectify their immigration status in New Zealand.

Critical Aspects of Section 61:

  • Target Audience: Individuals unlawfully present in New Zealand.
  • Purpose: Offering a potential pathway for applying for a new visa.
  • Authority Involved: The Minister of Immigration or delegated immigration officers.
  • Nature of Provision: Discretionary power to grant visas, often considered as a last resort.

The Importance of Understanding Section 61

For anyone who has overstayed or is without a lawful visa status in New Zealand, grasping the intricacies of Section 61 is crucial. This section of the Immigration Act can provide a potential route to legalising one’s status in the country. However, it’s vital to recognize that applying under Section 61 is not a guaranteed right but a discretionary option, dependent on specific criteria and individual case assessments.

Why Understanding Section 61 Matters:

  • Pathway to Legalization: A potential option for those seeking to legalise their status in New Zealand.
  • Discretionary Nature: Application and approval under Section 61 are not rights but are subject to immigration officer discretion.
  • Impact on the Future in New Zealand: The outcome of a Section 61 request can significantly influence an individual’s future in the country, emphasizing the need for a well-informed and prepared approach.

Key Statistics and Data

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The latest data shows nearly 1000 applicants receive visas under Section 61 annually.

Year Granted Visa under 61
2019 1284
2022 663

Table 1 – Trends and Patterns in Section 61 Visa approval  in 2019 & 2022

Age Group Granted Visa under 61
0-19 18
20-29 663
30-39 717
40-49 363
50-59 138
60-64 24
65+ 24
Year – 2019 & 2022

Table 2 – Age-wise trend of  Section 61 Visa approval  in 2019 & 2022

The data indicates a clear trend, with the highest number of approvals in the age group of 20-39.

Common Scenarios Leading to Section 61 Requests

Case Studies and Examples:

  • Scenario 1: Overstaying Due to Personal Circumstances – A common situation involves individuals who have overstayed their visa due to unforeseen personal circumstances, such as a medical emergency or family crisis. For instance, a person may have been unable to depart from New Zealand because of an unexpected medical condition or the necessity to look after an ailing family member.
  • Scenario 2: Misunderstanding Visa Conditions – Some individuals may find themselves unlawfully in New Zealand due to a misunderstanding or lack of awareness about their visa conditions. An instance of this could be a visitor or student who inadvertently breaches their visa conditions, not realizing that it invalidates their visa.
  • Scenario 3: Exploitation or Misinformation – There are cases where individuals overstay their visas because of misinformation or exploitation by unscrupulous employers or agents. This might include workers needing to be more informed about the visa extension or renewal process.

Discussion on Frequency and Arising of These Scenarios:

These scenarios are common, and the frequency of such occurrences can be linked to factors like lack of access to accurate information, language barriers, or the complexities of immigration laws. Data from [insert source here] indicates that X% of Section 61 requests come from Scenario 1, Y% from Scenario 2, and Z% from Scenario 3.

The Application Process for Section 61

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Step-by-Step Guide:

  • Assessment of Eligibility: Before applying, it’s crucial to assess if Section 61 is the right path based on individual circumstances.
  • Gathering Required Documentation includes personal identification, evidence of circumstances leading to the current situation, and supporting documents that strengthen the case.
  • Preparing a Detailed Application: The application should clearly state the reasons for overstaying and why a visa under Section 61 should be granted.
  • Submitting the Application: Applicants are required to forward their application to the New Zealand Immigration authorities. Depending on the existing regulations at the time of application, this can be accomplished through either an online electronic submission or a traditional paper-based approach.

Required Documents and Information:

  • Valid identification (passport, birth certificate)
  • Evidence supporting the reason for overstaying (medical records, employment records)
  • Proof of ties to New Zealand (if applicable)
  • Any previous correspondence with immigration authorities

Processing Times:

  • Section 61 requests do not have a fixed processing timeframe. However, they are typically processed within two months.
  • Each request is meticulously handled by a senior immigration officer at Immigration New Zealand (INZ), ensuring a thorough review process.


  • The fee for a Section 61 request varies depending on the type of visa being applied for.
  • As these fees are subject to change, it is advisable to consult the latest immigration guidelines for the most current fee structure.

Challenges in Section 61 Applications

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Common Obstacles:

  • Lack of Comprehensive Documentation: An application may be rejected if the documentation provided is incomplete or inadequate
  • Complexity of Individual Cases: Each case is unique, and complex situations may require more detailed explanations and evidence, increasing the difficulty of the application process.

Tips to Navigate These Challenges:

  • Ensure Thorough and Accurate Documentation: Double-check all submissions for completeness and accuracy.
  • Seek Professional Guidance: Consulting with experienced licensed immigration consultants can provide clarity and increase the likelihood of a successful application.
  • Stay Informed About Current Immigration Policies: Keeping up-to-date with the latest immigration laws and requirements can help prepare a robust application.

Strategies for a Successful Section 61 Request

Key Considerations and Strategies:

  • Comprehensive and Honest Application: Ensure the application is thorough, straightforward, and truthful. Providing false information or omitting details could result in the application being denied.
  • Substantial Evidence: Provide robust evidence to support the reasons for overstaying and the need for a visa. This includes documents related to health, employment, family ties, or other compelling reasons.
  • Well-structured Explanation: Clearly articulate the circumstances that led to the current situation. A well-structured narrative can help the immigration officer understand your case better.
  • Timeliness: Apply as soon as the need arises. Delayed applications without valid reasons may weaken the case.
  • Professional Help: Consider seeking assistance from immigration experts. Their experience and understanding of the nuances of immigration law can be invaluable.

Expert Advice and Insights:

  • Based on past experiences, thoroughly prepared applications with a clear explanation of circumstances and supporting solid evidence tend to have higher success rates.
  • Understanding the mindset of immigration officers and tailoring the application to address potential concerns can also be beneficial.

Alternatives to Section 61

Overview of Alternative Options:

  • Regular Visa Application: If circumstances allow, applying for a visa through the standard process can be an alternative. This is applicable if the individual’s situation has changed (e.g., finding eligible employment).
  • Appeal Process: In some cases, appealing against a decision or applying for a review may be a viable option.
  • Special Visas or Dispensations: Special categories of visas or dispensations might be available.

Comparison with Other Visa Options:

  • Section 61 is unique because it’s a discretionary remedy for those unlawfully in NZ, unlike standard visa applications based on predefined criteria.
  • The success of a Section 61 request heavily relies on individual circumstances. In contrast, other visa pathways have more predictable outcomes based on specific eligibility criteria.

Case Studies and Success Stories

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Real-life Examples:

  • Case Study 1: John Doe, who overstayed his visa due to a medical emergency. His Section 61 request was successful due to the solid medical evidence and clear explanation of his circumstances.
  • Case Study 2: Jane Smith is a student who inadvertently breached her visa conditions. Her request under Section 61 was accepted, highlighting her previous clean immigration history and the unintentional nature of the breach.

Analysis of Success Factors:

  • The key to success in both cases was providing substantial evidence and a straightforward, honest narrative.
  • Medical reports and letters from healthcare providers strengthened John Doe’s case. At the same time, Jane Smith’s application was supported by her academic records and character references.
  • These cases demonstrate the importance of a well-prepared application and the impact of personal circumstances on the decision-making process.

Expert Advice and Support

Importance of Professional Advice in Navigating Section 61 Requests:

  • Navigating the intricacies of immigration law, especially when dealing with Section 61 requests, can be complex and daunting. Professional advice is crucial as it provides clarity, direction, and a higher probability of success.
  • Immigration experts are well-versed in the nuances of the law. They are updated on any changes or updates in immigration policies, which is vital for a successful application.

How Immigration Consultancies(ICL Immigration) Can Assist in the Process:

  • Immigration Consultancies offer specialised services tailored to the unique circumstances of each Section 61 request. 
  • Our experienced team of licensed immigration adviser  is adept at assisting with preparing a detailed application, ensuring that all vital documents are comprehensively included and presented efficiently.
  • We provide a thorough assessment of your situation, offering strategic advice on how best to approach your application and assisting in highlighting the strengths of your case to the immigration authorities.


Summary of Key Takeaways about Section 61 and Its Implications:

  • Section 61 of the New Zealand Immigration Act offers a discretionary avenue for individuals unlawfully in New Zealand to regularize their status. However, the process is complex and requires a well-prepared approach.
  • Success in Section 61 requests hinges on a comprehensive and honest application supported by solid evidence and a clear explanation of individual circumstances.

Final Thoughts and Recommendations for Individuals Considering a Section 61 Request:

  • We strongly advise consulting with professional experts when contemplating a Section 61 request, as the specialised knowledge of immigration consultants can significantly improve the likelihood of a favourable result.
  • Applicants should act promptly and ensure all information and documentation provided are accurate and complete.

About ICL Immigration

ICL Immigration, based in Auckland, is an established licensed immigration adviser with over 20 years of experience and a remarkable 97% approval rate. We’ve helped over 1,000 immigrants realise their New Zealand settlement dreams. Our pricing is flat and transparent, and our expertise ensures a seamless journey towards your new life in New Zealand.


For the latest data and more detailed information, always refer to the official Immigration New Zealand or New Zealand government website.




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