Immigration New Zealand (INZ) will resume processing offshore residence applications – both those received prior to the border closure in March 2020 and new applications.
INZ will process and decide around 2,300 residence applications across all categories which had been received before the border closure.
As a result of the border restrictions imposed last year because of COVID-19 processing of most visa applications offshore was halted.
INZ had already resumed processing, but not deciding, offshore applications for selected visa categories. This approach was to make progress on applications so that decisions can be made faster once border restrictions are lifted.
But in a recent court case it was ruled that the processing of residence applications submitted offshore while the border was still open should be completed.
INZ will be in touch soon with applicants with further details. The Government has now decided in the wake of the judgment to remove the restriction that prevents first-time resident visa holders granted a resident visa offshore from travelling to New Zealand. This means residence processing will recommence for all offshore applicants.
The Government will also decide how to enable people who applied for a resident visa after the border restrictions came into force in March 2020 to travel to New Zealand. There are around 3,000 applications on hand in this category.
Around 4,000 people offshore who already hold resident visas but who were not able to travel are now able to come to New Zealand. They will be able to travel here if they meet the relevant health requirements (such as holding vouchers for Managed Isolation and Quarantine and undertaking pre-departure tests).
Those granted a visa under the 2021 Resident Visa category will also be able to travel to New Zealand if they are granted their visa while overseas. Those who travel later in 2022 may be able to enter without quarantining, depending on the border restrictions in place.