Immigration New Zealand (INZ) have set new priorities for visa processing. Rules for migrant workers assisting with essential services have also been relaxed, and an exception process has been put in place for the travel ban.
Priority order for visa processing
Immigration officers will process visas as follows, in the date order they are received by INZ.
Onshore and offshore visa applications for:
Relation of rules for migrant workers assisting with essential services
Temporary visa holders already employed in essential services
Temporary visa holders already employed in an essential service may do the following while NZ remains at Alert Level 3 or 4 and six weeks after these lockdown levels are lifted.
Student visa holders
Student visa holders already employed in an essential service may work more than 20 hours a week while NZ remains at Alert Level 3 or 4 and six weeks after these lockdown levels are lifted. This includes anyone working at a NZ supermarket.
Students must continue to meet their study requirements during this time. INZ recommend speaking with the relevant education providers about this.
Lower skilled workers in the healthcare sector who have worked in NZ for three years
Lower skilled temporary visa holders who have been working in the healthcare sector in NZ for three years can now work in NZ for another 12 months before the usual stand-down period applies.
An essential healthcare worker is defined as being a current employee, or a new employee with a signed offer of employment with a commencement date from March to June 2020 in one of the following:
Applying for an exception to travel to NZ
Individuals will only be considered for an exception to the travel ban if there are truly exceptional circumstances or they have a critical purpose for travelling to NZ. The threshold is high but circumstances could include:
If an individual is outside NZ and would like yo make a request for an exception they can fill out an online form on the INZ website, https://www.immigration.govt.nz/formshelp/request-for-travel-to-new-zealand.
We recommend that individuals look at flight availability before making a request for an exception. Other country border controls may impact the ability to travel to NZ.
We hope this provides some relief, but please get in touch if you have any questions.
In addition, the Immigration New Zealand website is being updated regularly with any changes made as a result of COVID-19.