New Zealand Border Reopening & What It Means To You

The New Zealand government revealed its plan to reopen the country's borders on 3 February. The plan established a five-step approach for reopening borders starting on February 28, 2022, with the first phase allowing New Zealanders to return from Australia and then from the rest of the globe. 


What the 5-step plan is

Summary in a table:

Step-1 From 11.59pm, Sunday 27 February 2022
  • Reopen to New Zealanders and other eligible travellers under current border settings (e.g. people with border exceptions) from Australia
Step-2 From 11:59 pm, Sunday 13 March 2022
  • Reopen to New Zealanders and other eligible travellers under current border settings from the rest of the world
  • Open to skilled workers earning at least 1.5 times the median wage
  • Open to Working Holiday Scheme visas
Step-3 From 11:59 pm, Tuesday 12 April 2022
  • Open to current offshore temporary visa holders, who can still meet the relevant visa requirements,
  • Open to up to 5000 international students for semester two
  • Further class exceptions for critical workforces that do not meet the 1.5 times the median wage test will be considered
Step-4 By July 2022
  • Open to anyone from Australia
  • Open for visa-waiver travel 
  • The Accredited Employer Work Visa will open, meaning the skilled and health worker border exception can be phased out
Step-5 October 2022
  • Border fully reopens to visitors from anywhere in the world, and all visa categories fully reopen.


Self-isolation requirements

Self-isolation is only available for fully vaccinated travellers who are eligible to enter New Zealand. 

Travellers must self-isolate for 10 days in New Zealand. If New Zealand’s self-isolation period changes, such as a drop to 7 days, the self-isolation period for travellers will also change.

Travellers will be provided three rapid antigen tests at the airport, one for use on day 0/1, and one for use on day 5/6, with one extra for backup. 

Anyone who tests positive will need to take a PCR test at a Community Testing Centre or GP for whole genome sequencing in order to quickly identify and respond to new variants coming across the border.

We will provide more information about self-isolation requirements when it is available.

What it means to international students

Based on Education New Zealand's analysis, there are a few key points from an international education perspective:

  • From 14 March 2022, students who are eligible to enter New Zealand will have the opportunity to self-isolate, rather than going through Managed Isolation and Quarantine facilities. These are students who have received their border exemptions previously.
  • A new cohort of up to 5,000 international students will be able to enter New Zealand to study for semester two this year. More details of the new cohort will be determined by the Ministers of Education and Immigration and advised in due course. We will keep you updated on this.
  • By July 2022, students from Visa Waiver countries will be able to enter New Zealand for short visits of up to three months.
  • By October 2022 normal visa processing will resume, enabling international students to enrol for study in New Zealand in 2023.

Although the plan doesn't allow everyone to enter immediately, it gives students greater certainty to plan their further studies.


What it means to other visa holders

There are various stages that apply to different visa holders, if you wish to discuss further details please contact us.


For more information:
New Zealand progressively reopens borders for international students in 2022 with new start in 2023 (media release from ENZ)
Border to reopen in stages from 27 February (announcement from the Ministers for COVID-19 Response and Immigration)
When New Zealand's borders open (information on the Unite Against Covid website)

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