COVID-19 is still a major disruptor for the ever-shifting NZ immigration environment, with legislative and policy changes coming thick and fast as the Government scrambles to keep up.
The past couple of weeks have seen a raft of announcements and developments not only in New Zealand but also across the Tasman. In this article we highlight the key developments to keep you updated.
Offshore resident visa holders
From 1 December 2021, all applicants who made applications for residence class visas before 19 March 2020, but have been prevented from entering New Zealand due to the border restrictions, are now able to enter New Zealand based on the resident visa they currently hold, or they will be able to enter when they are issued their first resident visa once Immigration NZ complete processing of their application. This will include offshore 2021 Resident Visa holders.
Suspension of offshore temporary visa applications extended
Immigration NZ has extended the suspension of overseas applications for most temporary visas until 5 August 2022.
The following offshore temporary entry class visa applications continue to be unaffected:
More information about when international students will be able to return to New Zealand without staying in MIQ will be announced in early 2022. Until then the Government has stated that the current border settings will remain in place.
If you are concerned about being able to bring your family members to New Zealand during 2022 please contact us for advice.
2021 Interim Visa
An Interim Visa for a period of 12 months will be granted to applicants who lodge a 2021 Resident Visa application, provided among other things that they haven’t already submitted a further application for a temporary entry class visa.
For many applicants, this means that it won’t be necessary to apply for a further temporary visa to remain lawfully in New Zealand. However, there are some important disadvantages to holding an Interim Visa instead of a regular temporary visa, that all applicants should be aware of. For instance, while on an interim visa it not possible to submit any further visa applications. Also it’s not possible to change visa conditions. Interim Visas also don’t have travel conditions, meaning it’s not possible to return to New Zealand on an Interim Visa.
If you or your loved ones are weighing up the best way forward we recommend that you contact us for advice.
Changes to humanitarian border exception
INZ have announced changes to the humanitarian border exception with effect from 29 November 2021. The criteria now confirms that a humanitarian crisis occurring outside of New Zealand is not relevant to the determination of a request to travel to New Zealand. On the other hand, two sub-categories have been included which could justify entry to New Zealand:
From our experience with these requests, it is clear that the bar is set very high by Immigration NZ, hence was is required is a strategic and very thorough approach to each request, carefully addressing how the criteria is met and providing as many supporting documents as possible.
Before embarking on a border entry exception request sound legal advice is essential, particularly on the prospects of success. Contact us for advice if you have any questions about border exceptions.
High risk countries
Nine southern African countries added to very high risk countries list. Travel restrictions apply from 11:59pm Sunday 28 November 2021.
The Australian Federal government deferred planned easing of border restrictions for eligible temporary visa holders until 15 December 2021.
The reopening to travellers from Japan and the Republic of Korea will also be paused until 15 December 2021.
This means the current arrangements for travel exemptions for temporary visa holders will remain in place until 15 December 2021. The government says the temporary pause will allow it to gather further information about new Omicron variant of COVID-19.
New travel restrictions from certain Southern African countries
Travel restrictions are now in place for people who have been in South Africa, Lesotho, Eswatini, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Seychelles, Mozambique, or Malawi in the last 14 days.
Australian citizens, permanent residents or their immediate family members entering Australia who have been in South Africa, Lesotho, Eswatini, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Seychelles, Mozambique, or Malawi in the last 14 days must enter supervised quarantine for 14 days in line with state and territory requirements, irrespective of their vaccination status.
Any other travellers who have been to the above mentioned countries in the last 14 days are not permitted to enter Australia, even if they hold a travel exemption, eligible visa or are seeking to enter under a Safe Travel Zone arrangement.
For professional legal advice that will give you peace of mind contact our Immigration Team today.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended as legal advice. It is important that you seek legal advice that is specific to your circumstances.