An alien is defined as a person who is not a British subject, a British protected person, an Irish citizen, or a Western Samoan. The few main restrictions on aliens are to be found in the Aliens Act of 1948, which allows them to hold and inherit real and personal property as if a citizen. On the other hand, they have no right to vote at a parliamentary election, to hold parliamentary or other office, to be the owner of any part of a British ship, or to have any of the rights of a British subject, except those detailed. They can in certain circumstances vote at local elections. There are in addition certain other legal restrictions. An alien cannot be admitted as a barrister or a solicitor, while the examinations for masters, mates, and engineers of British ships are open only to British subjects. Certain professional bodies also have rules which prohibit the admission of aliens or do not recognise qualifications obtained in foreign countries.
Aliens have much the same rights as British subjects in sueing and being sued. Alien children are required to attend school and are entitled to free education. Social security benefits have residential qualifications and are available to all who fulfil them.
Before taking up residence in New Zealand, aliens are required to obtain an entry permit from the Secretary of Labour. Visitors and students need a temporary entry permit. The former should be obtained before arrival in New Zealand.
All aliens 16 years or above are required to register with the Police on arrival in New Zealand. A certificate of registration is issued and changes of address, name, and occupation must be notified. Diplomatic and consular representatives, their servants, officials attending international official conferences or representing international organisations are exempt. In addition, crews of ships and aircraft and temporary visitors are in certain circumstances also exempted.
The Minister of Justice has power to deport any alien who has been convicted and sentenced to more than a year's imprisonment, where the Court recommends deportation. The Minister can also deport where he is satisfied that it will be for the public good, but such an order must be approved by the Governor-General.
Even if in the first case the alien appeals against the sentence of the Court for deportation, the Minister may still deport if he believes it to be for the public good.
by James Oakley Wilson, D.S.C., M.COM., A.L.A., Chief Librarian, General Assembly Library, Wellington.
- Nationality and Citizenship Laws of the Commonwealth, Parry, C. (1957).