Home | Browse Topics | Immigration & refugees | Immigration | If you’re here illegally: Understanding your options

Immigration & refugees

Chapters in this topic

If you’re here illegally: Understanding your options


If your visa has expired, this means you’re now here illegally (in immigration law, this is called having “unlawful status”, or being here “unlawfully”). Once your status becomes unlawful, you generally have no right to apply for a new visa, and you may have to leave the country. However, you do have some options:

  • you can apply for a visa as a special case under section 61 of the Immigration Act,
  • you can appeal to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal on humanitarian grounds.

Did this answer your question?


Where to go for more support

Community Law


Your local Community Law Centre can provide free initial legal advice and information.

Immigration New Zealand


Immigration New Zealand is the government organisation that deals with visa applications and other immigration issues. It’s part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.


You can read Immigration NZ’s Operational Manual at www.immigration.govt.nz/opsmanual

Immigration and Protection Tribunal


Also available as a book

The Community Law Manual

The Manual contains over 1000 pages of easy-to-read legal info and comprehensive answers to common legal questions. From ACC to family law, health & disability, jobs, benefits & flats, Tāonga Māori, immigration and refugee law and much more, the Manual covers just about every area of community and personal life.

Buy The Community Law Manual

Help the manual

We’re a small team that relies on the generosity of all our supporters. You can make a one-off donation or become a supporter by sponsoring the Manual for a community organisation near you. Every contribution helps us to continue updating and improving our legal information, year after year.

Donate Become a Supporter

Find the Answer to your Legal Question

back to top