INFORMATION FOR OFFSHORE TRAVELLERS
Who may travel to New Zealand despite the border closure?
New Zealand citizens are allowed unconditional travel. Resident visa holders may enter as well, unless their resident visa was granted outside of New Zealand and they have not travelled to New Zealand on their resident visa before. Some Australian citizens will be allowed border entry as well, please enquire if you wish to know more.
Temporary visa holders (workers, students, visitors) are normally forbidden from travelling to New Zealand unless INZ grants them an exemption (see below).
Who may be granted an exemption?
Exceptions will only be granted in exceptional circumstances, including:
• Health and other essential workers (see below)
• Citizens of Samoa and Tonga for essential travel to New Zealand
• Visitor, student or work visa holders who normally live in New Zealand, and who are the partner or dependent of a temporary work or student visa holder who is currently in New Zealand
• Humanitarian reasons.
Please remember that the bar for “humanitarian reasons” – for example, distress at being separated from a partner will probably not qualify, unless the wellbeing of a child is seriously affected by their parent’s absence.
To qualify for an exemption, you should first submit a special request to INZ, not apply for a visa as normal. Please contact us for further information.
What is an essential health worker?
Offshore workers in an essential health area may be eligible for a visa and border entry. Their application will be prioritised, and if approved they may travel to New Zealand despite the current border restrictions.
They must be a current or new employee (see below) working in a key clinical or non-clinical position (see below) for an essential health service employer.
What is a current employee of an essential health service?
An employee who holds a key clinical or non-clinical position (see below) working in:
• A District Health Board
• New Zealand Blood Service
• Hospice or palliative care
• A primary care practice, such as urgent care or a medical or healthcare centre
• Aged residential care, respite or continuing care facility.
What is a new employee of an essential health service?
A staff member with a signed offer of employment from one of the agencies listed above, and who has a commencement date from March to June 2020.
What is a key clinical or non-clinical position?
The key clinical or non-clinical positions eligible are:
• Medical Doctors
• Technical and support staff working in:
o Cardiology Blood service
o Nuclear medicine
o Hyperbaric medicine
o Research Staff
• Support staff working in:
o Aged care
o Palliative/hospice care
o Mental health
o Child health
o Forensic care
What other essential businesses are exempted from the border closure?
Please refer to the website: https://covid19.govt.nz/…/current-cov…/essential-businesses/
I don’t believe I am eligible to enter New Zealand now, but I would still like to come once things return to normal. Can I still submit a visa application from overseas?
Yes, you can. You can submit a visa now and “get in the queue”, so that your decision will come earlier once INZ reopens.
Note, however, that Immigration New Zealand’s visa processing centres are almost entirely closed so we do not know how long your visa will take to process.
Currently, the New Zealand border is closed for three months, but there is a high chance that this closure will be extended beyond this date.
Unfortunately, we are unsure when visa processing and border entry will return to normal.
INFORMATION FOR ONSHORE MIGRANTS
“I’ve heard something about visa expiry dates being extended due to the epidemic. What does this mean?”
If you are in New Zealand now and hold a valid work, student, or visitor visa expiring between 02/04/20 and 09/07/20 (inclusive), then your visa will be automatically extended to 25/09/20. You do not need to inform Immigration New Zealand of your circumstances, they should contact you.
The visa expiry extension does not apply if you are currently offshore.
“I hold a low-skilled Essential Skills Work Visa and have been here for three years. Normally, I would need to leave New Zealand now. Do I still need to leave?”
You may be able to remain here despite the maximum stay of three years for low-skilled Essential Skills Work Visa holders, especially if you work in an area of essential services.
Please contact us for further information
“I hold a Student Visa or Visitor Visa. Do my work rights change?”
Supermarket workers on any visa (work, student, etc.)
If you held a Student or Work Visa and were working at a supermarket affiliated with Woolworths or Foodstuffs Limited on March 23 2020, then you may be eligible to work full-time until 25 April 2020.
However, please ensure you fully understand the rules before undertaking work that you would not normally be entitled to do! Otherwise, you could get in trouble with Immigration New Zealand at a later date.
Contact us or Immigration New Zealand to ensure these work rights exemptions apply to you.
Student Visa holders in healthcare
International Students currently employed in healthcare roles (including aged residential care) will be able to work full-time for three months in order to support the public health response to COVID-19.
We are awaiting further instructions from Immigration New Zealand on the correct procedure for doing this. Please contact us if you would like to know more.
“I should have got an interim visa by now, but still have not. What does this mean?”
We have several clients who have not yet been granted interim visas due to a glitch in the INZ system. This is unlikely to be resolved until after the lockdown.
Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns about your current immigration status.