The legislation will contain important rights, such as the rights of Cook Islanders to travel to, enter and be in the Cook Islands, and the rights and entitlements of permanent residents and other visa and permit holders.
Principal Immigration Officer Samuela Kairangi says it will also contain important rules, controlling who is prohibited from travelling to the Cook Islands and the rules and responsibilities of carriers, employers and education providers.
In a statement issued on Friday, Kairangi said the legislation will require “high level” criteria and conditions for permanent residence, and for visas for travel and permits for staying in the country to be contained in regulations.
“Regulations will be decided by Cabinet and supported through operational policies decided by the Minister (on advice from the Principal Immigration Officer).
“This will create the flexibility needed for the new legislation and regulations to be fit for purpose when passed and into the future,” she said.
A consultant is working on proposals for the regulations and Samuela said consultation documents are likely to be circulated towards the middle of this month.
“Anyone can review the documents and comment on the proposals. All feedback will be welcomed,” she added.
The statement said Cook Islands Immigration and the consultant would hold meetings on the proposals for the regulations, possibly in late October.
Samuela emphasised that the proposals for the legislation and regulations do not yet represent the government’s policies for the new legislation or regulations and have not yet been reviewed and agreed by the Immigration minister (prime minister Henry Puna) or Cabinet.
“Consultation is being undertaken and feedback is being considered before the proposals are put to Cabinet. This will enable Cook Islands Immigration to seek a wide range of views, and balance the feedback to support the outcome and objectives.
“Cabinet feedback and agreement to the proposals will occur after stakeholder feedback has been received and considered. Cabinet will (then) need to agree to the drafting of new legislation and policy.”
- Release/Cameron Scott