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Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has announced three major changes to New Zealand (NZ) temporary work visas, to respond to the impact that COVID-19 is having on migrant workers.

Extensions to existing employer-assisted work visas

Temporary workers in NZ whose visas were due to expire between 10 July 2020 and 31 December 2020 will have had their visas automatically extended by six months. This includes those visas previously extended to 25 September 2020 under the epidemic management notice.

Importantly, this automatic extension does not apply to partners or dependent children who hold visas based on their relationship with a worker. Instead, partners and dependent children will need to make a further application to INZ to extend their status in line with the principal applicant worker visa holder.

INZ will email workers confirming any automatic extensions, by 14 July 2020.

​Delayed stand-down period

The stand-down period for low-skilled workers will be delayed for impacted essential skills work visa holders. This means that lower-skilled migrants who were subject to the stand-down period between August 2020 and 31 December 2020 are now able to stay in NZ for a further six months after their stand-down would have taken effect.

Reduced lower-paid essential skills work visas

The duration of low-paid essential skills work visas will be reduced from 12 months to six months. This applies to any application received by INZ from 10 July 2020, and will be in place for at least the next 18 months.

​Our advice

These changes are limited to visa duration extensions and a delayed stand-down period for impacted individuals. Work visa holders must continue to work in line with the employer, location and occupation conditions listed on their visa label. The requirement for essential skills work visa holders to work at least 30 hours per week also still stands.

Our experts

We hope this provides some certainty for migrant workers and employers in the short term, but if you have any questions please do not hesitate to get in touch with the team.

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