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03 June 2005
Although the New Zealand government denies claims that Iraqi citizens are being denied re-entry visas, it does warn that processing is taking longer. The government says that anyone holding New Zealand residency should apply early for re-entry visas, as immigration procedures are tightened.
Iraqi New Zealanders claim they are being refused re-entry visas, as a result of Winston Peters naming people in Parliament that he claims were supporters of the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
The Labour Department says the visas are not being denied to Iraqis but same-day turnaround for returning travellers cannot be guaranteed, as all high-risk applications are now being processed in New Zealand. Most requests are being processed within five days, but some take up to a month.
Labour Department Deputy Secretary Mary Anne Thompson makes no apologies for the delays. She says people are not let into New Zealand lightly and the department will take whatever time is required to be thorough.