New Border Entry Exemption Category Opens the Door for Eligible Visa Holders

On 9 October 2020, the New Zealand Government created a new border exception category that will enable the return of some temporary work visa holders who are overseas and have strong and ongoing links to New Zealand.

The change, like many in recent months, reflects another adjustment as part of Immigration New Zealand’s response to the complications caused by COVID-19. While our border remains closed with some specific exceptions where there is a “critical purpose”, the latest change will allow another group of Work Visa holders to enter New Zealand.

The new border exception category enables the return of some work visa holders who are overseas but were not previously classed as having a critical purpose to enter New Zealand. This new category is referred to as “normally resident work visa holders” and will welcome back into the country those who have built lives here in New Zealand.

To be eligible, visa holders must:

1.   have held one of the following visas at the time they left New Zealand:

  • an essential skills visa which is either mid-skilled, high-skilled or at or above the median wage (currently $25.50 per hour), or
  • a work to residence visa including: Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa; Talent (Arts, Culture and Sports) Work Visa; Long Term Skill Shortage List Work Visa; Skilled Migrant Category Job Search Visa; South Island Contribution Work Visa; or Global Impact Work Visa; or
  • an entrepreneur work visa.

2.   have departed New Zealand between 1 December 2019 and 9 October 2020

3.   have retained the same job since they left New Zealand (which is consistent with their visa conditions) or continue to operate the same business in New Zealand if they held and Entrepreneur Work Visa

4.   have lived in New Zealand for at least two years before their departure (meaning living in New Zealand for at least 9 months of each of the 12 month periods), or, if living in New Zealand for between one and two years, must meet one of the following conditions:

  • had at least one dependent child with them in New Zealand (for at least six months of the 12-month period), or
  • have parents or adult siblings who are ordinarily resident in New Zealand, or
  • had submitted an application for residence by 31 July 2020.

5. The visa holder must have  held a visa at the time of departing New Zealand that does not expire before the end of 2020, or, if their visa is expiring before that date, they must have  applied for a further visa by 10 August 2020.

How Pitt & Moore can help

We offer an initial free 15-minute consultation to all new clients to discuss your particular circumstances and what services we can provide.

What sets us apart is that we are experts in each step of the immigration process as well as in employment law. This means that we can advise on all immigration, visa, and employment-related issues.

Talk to us

If you would like advice on this topic or any other immigration or employment related issue, please contact our Immigration Team on 03 548 4389 or

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.

Topics: All Select

Heather Collins

Position: Associate
DDI: +64 3 545 6702