21 September 2020
The Government has agreed to the following changes to make it easier for some visa holders and partners of New Zealand citizens and residents to return to New Zealand:
- New border exception category for normally-resident temporary work visa holders.
- Extension of travel conditions for offshore resident visa holders.
- Changes to border exception criteria for Australian and visa waiver partners of New Zealand citizens and residents.
You can find out more from the Minister here.
- INZ to assist with repatriation of migrants deemed to be in extreme hardship. Immigration New Zealand (INZ) is using unspent deportations budget to help repatriate foreign nationals who are stuck in New Zealand and facing extreme hardship. More info.
- Normally Resident temp work visa holders: From early October, a new border exception category will enable the return of some temporary work visa holders who were overseas when the borders closed and who did not meet the criteria to be granted a border exception. More info.
- Offshore resident visa holder extension: The Minister of Immigration has agreed to extend the travel conditions of some offshore resident visas for 12 months and grant a new resident visa (valid for 12 months) to holders of recently-expired resident visas. More info.
- Australian and visa waiver partners border exception change: The Government has agreed to change the approach to ‘partners of New Zealand citizen or resident’ to consider the grant of visas for Australian partners and partners from visa waiver countries. More info.
- Processing and deciding relationship-based visas: We will now process and decide relationship-based visa applications that are supported by a New Zealand Citizen or New Zealand Resident. More info.
- Extending onshore visitor visas: The Government will automatically extend current onshore visitor visas that are due to expire between 4 September and the end of October 2020 for five-months. More info.
- New COVID-19 short-term visitor visa: The COVID-19 short-term visitor visa can be applied for by any temporary migrants who are currently in New Zealand, and whose visa is expiring and they need time to make plans to travel home. More info.
- Some visa application centres reopen: From Monday 7 September 2020, select New Zealand Visa Application Centres (VACs) will reopen to accept applications from those individuals who meet the border exceptions criteria. More info.
- Work visa extension aligned for partners and dependants: We will apply the same expiry date extension of employer-assisted work visas made in July 2020 to the partners and dependants of the principal visa holder if their visa would have expired from 17 August to 31 December 2020. More info.
- RSE worker visa extension. We will extend Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme visas by six months for those expiring from 18 August to 31 December 2020. More info.
- Replacing skills levels with a median wage threshold: The combination of ANZSCO and salary to assess skill level is being replaced with a simple remuneration threshold, aligned to the national median wage calculated by Statistics NZ. More info.
- Changing the duration of Essential Skills visas: Workers who earn at or above the median wage can be granted a visa for 3 years. There is no longer a 5 year visa for higher-skilled jobs. More info.
- Stand down period for below median wage visas: Workers will be subject to a stand-down period if they have been in New Zealand for 3 years on an Essential Skills visa for work that pays below the median wage. More info.
- Supporting partners and dependants: Essential Skills work visa holders earning below the median wage can only support partners on visitor visas, not work visas. Essential Skills work visa holders earning at or above the median wage can support work or visitor visas for partners, and visitor or student visas for dependent children. More info.
- 6 month extensions for employer-assisted temporary work visas: Migrant workers in New Zealand on the 10 July 2020 who held an employer-assisted temporary work visa due to expire before 31 December 2020 may have been extended for 6 months. More info.