How can people apply for support?
From 1 July 2020, people who have found themselves in a tough position due to COVID-19 can check their eligibility and apply - click below button.
All visa extensions resulting from the original Epidemic Management Notice (EMN) remain in place for individuals who are still in New Zealand on the visa that was extended.
Individuals whose visa extensions remain in place to 25 September, as well as individuals who did not receive a visa extension and have visas due to expire soon, should be working on a plan to either apply for a new visa or depart New Zealand.
Immigration New Zealand has now received 14,901 expressions of interest (EOI) from people who believe they meet exceptions to the border closure. Of the 14,440 EOIs decided so far, 2,832 meet the criteria and have been invited to apply for a visa.
Exceptions to the border closure
The Minister has announced changes to border exception criteria that come into effect next week.
The changes include:
INZ is working to implement these changes as quickly as possible. We expect the changes to partners, essential workers and diplomats will be in effect by the end of next week. The maritime changes will be in place later in June.
The Government will continue to review the way we manage our border as New Zealand recovers from COVID-19.
The Government is working on a border strategy focused on the longer-term management of New Zealand's people movement border settings, and exploring how to create a managed isolation system that could support further opening of New Zealand’s borders while continuing to effectively manage health risks from overseas arrivals.
Partners and dependants
Partners and dependants of New Zealand citizens and residents no longer need to travel together to be granted an entry exception.
The current requirement that family members need to be travelling with each other to New Zealand has created significant difficulties for separated families.
The exemption will now also enable entry for partners, dependent children and legal guardians of New Zealand citizens and residents who are usually living in New Zealand or have a relationship based visa.
The film industry may be up and running in New Zealand but other industries are crying out for workers trapped overseas by the country's tight border controls. Hollywood film crew and executives have been allowed into the country this week to film the Avatar sequels and another as-yet-unnamed blockbuster.
But the exceptions that allowed their entry don't appear to apply to many other industries, including IT, construction, farming and manufacturing, all desperately short of staff. And that is going to make the country's recovery from Covid-19 all the more tougher, say experts.
Net migration is expected to fall sharply as a result of border closures but was already declining before Covid-19, Infometrics senior economist Brad Olsen said. At the same time, New Zealand is expected to see a rise in unemployment - due to peak at 9.8 per cent in September but expected to drop to 5.7 per cent by 2022. Before Covid-19 there was an inflow of around 50,000 a year, but that was expected to drop to 30,000 by 2025.
"We are still expected to hit 30,000 in 2025, but now we are having to rebuild from nothing," he said.
"Immigration has been a driver of economic activity. That is going to be quite a big change."
New Zealand had brought migrants in to do jobs Kiwis either didn't want or weren't skilled enough to do.
"Migrants 'stealing jobs' doesn't happen," he said.
The challenge would be whether to bring in skilled workers from overseas, or train local people. "We have got a very tight timeframe to train people up to pick this work up," he said.
Simon Park, director of the Immigration Trust, said Immigration New Zealand was challenging visa applications to see whether jobs could be filled by the local labour market, which was adding to delays.
But the ''Kiwi first'' approach made filling high-skilled roles more difficult.
"Low-skilled jobs can be filled by unemployed Kiwis. It's OK to challenge low skilled jobs, but if it can't be filled by Kiwis we might have to look at fast processing applications," he said. High-skilled roles included work in the IT sector, he said.
National Party spokesperson for economic development Judith Collins said she had heard of engineering and construction businesses struggling to find employees from the local labour market.
"A lot of businesses are suffering for not being able to bring in people that they had already contracted for, or people working in New Zealand from before lockdown."
Highly-skilled workers could be brought into the country "sensibly" with quarantining, she added.
Council of Trade Unions director of policy Andrea Black said many migrants worked in sectors that were shrinking as a result of Covid-19, including tourism and hospitality.
But work should be allocated to people already in the country, and out-of-work Kiwis.
"We really call on the government to invest in the labour market policy for people who are out of work," she said. That included increased job security and pay in low-skill work.
*To read the actual article please click here.
With more staff re-entering the office, visa processing capacity continues to grow. INZ now has 97% of onshore Immigration Officers currently able to work. All offshore offices remain closed.
While we now have more onshore capacity, we do expect visa applications may take longer than usual to process. There will also be an increase in the time and effort required in processing some visa application types due to additional requests for information or comment being required.
We often receive applications that have errors or are missing required information such as medical information, police certificates, employment agreements or the correct legal name of the business. It’s important to get all information correct in applications; otherwise this slows down the process.
All applications are still required to meet normal immigration requirements, which for some will include providing a police or medical certificate. If individuals are unable to provide this documentation at the time they make their application they should include details of this and the reasons why the documentation is not available. This explanation will be considered when the application is assessed.
INZ is committed to processing visas as fast as practicable but application processing times always depend on the complexity of an application. It is critical that the right level of scrutiny is applied to ensure the right decisions are made for New Zealand.
Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) and Residence from Work (RFW) Category applications will be prioritised for allocation if the principal applicant is onshore and:
As of 26 May 2020, INZ is allocating:
Applicants will be contacted when an application is allocated to an immigration officer.
The time taken to assess an application can vary considerably and will depend on the quality and of supporting documents and whether further information or verification of information is required.
Immigration New Zealand understands that as a result of COVID-19, it has been difficult for individuals who have been invited to apply through the Skilled Migrant or Investor 2 categories to submit their applications within the required timeframe.
Normally, applicants have four months from when they are invited to apply to submit their application with all the required documents. However, during the COVID-19 lockdown some applicants found it hard to obtain all the documents necessary for their application or were otherwise unable to submit their application.
As a result, the Government has decided to extend the timeframe that applicants have to submit their application.
Individuals who were issued an Invitation to Apply between 1 November 2019 and 15 April 2020 will now have an additional six months to submit their application.
This provides applicants with 10 months in total from the date they were invited to apply to submit their application. INZ believe this is sufficient time for individuals to obtain the necessary documents for their applications.
A female client came to us just before the Covid-19 lockdown. She was heavily pregnant, unlawful, and had a deportation order placed on her.
Initially, she organized a paid consultation first then engaged straight after the consultation with Simon, our CEO. Simon communicated with the Compliance Team in INZ and also the Section 61 team to advocate her case. Also, he had to work with the High Commission to issue an emergency passport certificate for her as she had an expired passport, and INZ will not issue a visa unless you have a passport. At the same time, he wrote a letter to her midwife so the client can get support while waiting for the outcome of her Section 61 application. All these organized and happened during this lock-down.
Finally, her visitor visa was granted, meaning she is NOT unlawful anymore and has access to a hospital in NZ. She wrote an email to let us know that she will have her baby in 3 weeks.
What a drama, but it was a happy one!