New Zealand: Annual legal queries for Santa: Immigration


As you all know, boys and girls, Cavell Leitch advise the most important clients. This includes a certain Christmas celebrity! Every year, about this time, Santa needs a little bit of last minute advice, which we are always happy to provide. Here is a summary of the advice he needed this year.

Santa has been delivering goodies to the boys and girls of New Zealand for a very long time. He comes every Christmas, and he loves it here. Lately, he and Mrs Claus have been thinking about purchasing a permanent home in Queenstown. They want a quiet place to be, during the off-season.
However, Santa and Mrs Claus are not New Zealand or Australian citizens. They are, of course, citizens of the North Pole. Also, Santa will not have time to organise the purchase of a property before Christmas.

Will the change to foreign ownership of homes, coming into effect in January, affect Santa?
Our Queenstown team were able to advise that yes, the changes will affect Santa. This is because anyone who is not a permanent resident or New Zealand citizen will need Overseas Investment Office (OIO) consent to purchase an existing home in New Zealand.

What can Santa do?
The good news is that consent is not required if Santa buys land and builds his own house. Therefore, Santa could buy some land and build a purpose-built home for him and Mrs Claus. Or, of course, if Santa wants to buy an existing home he can apply for OIO consent. This is a costly and expensive process though, but our Queenstown team are ready to help!

Building a retreat for the elves
Santa has also told us that when he buys the property in Queenstown, he wants it big enough to build accommodation for up to 100 elves. This is because a number of his elves suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. He would like to give the elves a yearly holiday, here in New Zealand, to allow them to get a decent amount of sunlight. The problem, of course, is that accommodation for 100 elves is not small, even though they might be.

While the accommodation facility is for 100 beds, the intensity and scale will likely be less than for humans. Nevertheless, Santa will need a resource consent to build such a facility, along with a building consent. Given Santa's need for anonymity, our Resource Management team can run the process, and with some good design (and a sufficiently sized property) the facility could be inconspicuous enough not to need notification. Luckily, even if notification is required, exclusive accommodation isn't unheard of in Queenstown, so there is a good chance of it being approved. Once built, local rules require registration or a further consent to operate visitor accommodation. Not obtaining consent risks possible prosecution, fines or even imprisonment, which would not be a good look for someone of Santa's standing!

Dealing with an accident in the workplace
You may not know this, but Santa and some of his select elves carry out a dress-rehearsal delivery some weeks before Christmas. This is just to ensure they can address any potential hiccups before the big day. Unfortunately, this year one of the elves was badly injured when climbing from the sleigh down a chimney. It was Guy Fawkes' night, and some fireworks spooked Rudolph. Rudolph bolted, pulling the sleigh forward and crushing the elf's fingers between the sleigh and the chimney. Two of the elf's fingers had to be amputated.
Will Santa have any health and safety issues to resolve with the authorities, as a result of the accident?
Our Employment team have told Santa that he needs to immediately notify WorkSafe, as amputation of any part of the body is a Notifiable Injury under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. Santa will need to take urgent legal advice, cooperate with WorkSafe, and notify his insurer.

An "elf" problem with a visa
The elf that fell down the chimney has applied for a further work visa to allow him to come back to New Zealand, to work on Christmas Eve. He is a hard-working elf, very dedicated indeed!
As you may know, visa applicants often have to provide a Chest X-ray to show that they meet the health requirements for a visa. This elf's Chest X-ray shows shadows. We have spoken to Pacific Radiology Group, and they believe that the shadows may just be healed rib fractures and adjacent plural thickening, from falling down the chimney. However, the medical assessor at Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has asked for a further written report, from a radiologist. The medical assessor is worried that the elf has a more serious problem and therefore, he or she needs more information before he or she can tell the Immigration Officer that the elf meets the health requirements.

Will this delay the elf's visa application?
Our Immigration team has told Santa that unfortunately, it will cause a delay.
It will be important for the elf to get a report from a radiologist as soon as possible. This is because the report needs to be forwarded to INZ's medical assessor who then sends his or her opinion to the Immigration Officer, who is considering the visa application. This process takes at least a month. Therefore, the sooner our Immigration team receives the report, the faster the visa can be issued and the greater the chance that the elf will be in the sleigh, working, on Christmas Eve!

Happy holidays to all of our clients! We look forward to seeing you all, in the New Year!

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Ashley-Jayne Lodge
Stephen Brent
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