Interim Visas: Tips and Traps Migrant Workers and Employers Need to Know! 

By Hannah McCarthy

8 January 2024

An Interim Visa allows a migrant worker on a temporary visa to be in New Zealand legally while they await the outcome of their further temporary visa application. 

Generally, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) issues Interim Visas automatically unless certain conditions apply, and from our experience this is where migrant workers and their employers can encounter complications and can get into trouble. 

Key points to bear in mind:

  • Unlike other visas, there is no right to apply for an Interim Visa under the Immigration Act. And, INZis not required to notify visa applicants or their employers that an Interim Visa won’t be granted. 
  • Interim Visas will not necessarily have the same visa conditions as the previous visa . In some instances, migrants may lose work rights while holding Interim Visas, meaning working would breach visa conditions and may affect future visa applications, and could mean deportation. Employers may also be fined and lose accreditation status and be stood down from hiring migrant workers.  
  • Interim Visas generally do not have travel conditions and will expire when a migrant leaves New Zealand (this may not apply to Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) Interim Visas, which have different rules. Read more here). For example, with a regular Interim Visa a migrant worker wanting to go home to visit family would need to wait for their new visa to be granted before they could return to New Zealand.  
  • Interim Visas generally last for a maximum of six months, so if a decision on the temporary application is not made in that time by INZ, the migrant worker can lose their right to work and will need expert advice and assistance to make sure they don’t become unlawful. 

Important rules about expiry of Interim Visas  

Interim Visas can expire: 

  • when INZ approves an application and grants a visa; or 
  • 21 days after a visa application has been declined or withdrawn; or 
  • as noted above, after six months if no decision has been made in this time. 

If a visa application is withdrawn or declined, the 21 days allow a migrant to leave New Zealand while remaining lawful or request INZ to reconsider the decision, if they want them to. 

Interim Visa holders with work rights can generally continue to work during the 21 days following a withdrawal or declined visa application. 

It’s also important to keep in mind that an Interim Visa will not automatically be granted by INZ if the migrant: 

  • has particular alerts or warnings related to their character in INZ’s system; 
  • has an active appeal; 
  • is liable for deportation; 
  • has an open case with the Deputy Chief Executive or the Minister of Immigration; 
  • has compliance action underway; 
  • is a student funded through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade or the New Zealand Aid Programme; or  
  • holds a visa that has been granted because the Immigration and Protection Tribunal has ordered the grant of the visa under either section 210 or 216 of the Immigration Act 2009. 

In any of the above cases, the decision about whether a migrant worker will be granted an Interim Visa is made by an Immigration Officer. For this reason, it’s vital for employers and migrants to closely monitor visa expiry dates and get expert advice as soon as possible.  

Talk to us  

Our team at Pitt & Moore can help you navigate all aspects of visa applications, advising on any issues that may prevent an Interim Visa from being issued and assisting with last-minute temporary visa applications.   

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.

Hannah-Jean McCarthy

Hannah-Jean McCarthy

Position: Solicitor
DDI: +64 3 9280108

Topics: All Select