What does the New Zealand border reopening mean?

We have been inundated with enquiries from anxious Kiwis, Australians and other foreign nationals about the timeline for the staged reopening of the New Zealand border, which was announced late in 2021, but swiftly pushed back due to the emergence of the Covid-19 Omicron variant.

Today, the Prime Minister has provided some more certainty for families and businesses, around what is happening at the border.

In short, the five step plan to reconnect New Zealand to the world is:

  1. From 11.50pm Sunday 27 February, fully vaccinated New Zealanders in Australia will be able to return home and skip Managed Isolation & Quarantine (MIQ) and self-isolate at home. Critical workers in Australia will also be able to travel in
  2. From 13 March New Zealanders from the rest of the world will be able to return under similar conditions, alongside some critical workers, and their families
  3. In April non-citizens with skilled worker visas and international students will be able to skip MIQ
  4. Then no-later than July the country is expected to open up to non-citizens from visa-waiver countries – like Australia, the USA, and UK. Travellers arriving under the Accredited Employer Work Visa category will also be able to enter NZ
  5. From October New Zealand would open up to the rest of the world and normal visa processing would resume.

The Prime Minister also stressed that MIQ requirements will remain for the unvaccinated. Vaccination, COVID-19 testing and isolation requirements will continue.

This announcement is great news, and we are very pleased for the families who will finally be able to reconnect.

From a business perspective, we are cautiously optimistic that this will mean businesses can get the skilled workers they need, depending on flight, and housing availability. It does appear, however, that there will be little relief for our tourism sector, given the ongoing need for self-isolation on arrival is likely to put off many tourists.

As we have flagged in the past, the pressure on Immigration New Zealand (INZ) having to manage the new work visa programme is immense. Today, the Prime Minister promised to resource Immigration New Zealand appropriately to meet demand. We hope this is the case, as now that the country’s doors are starting to open again, there will be even more work for INZ to do.

With the borders reopening, it is as important as ever for individuals and businesses to get professional legal advice on their options as well as assistance with border entry exception requests.

We have a thorough understanding of the applicable immigration policy and our team has successfully assisted numerous individuals and Kiwi employers to obtain approval under the available border exception categories. 

Talk to us

If you have any immigration related questions including about border exceptions, please contact our Immigration team today on +64 3 545 6714 for professional legal advice that will give you a peace of mind.

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

Elly Fleming

Position: Associate
Email: elly.fleming@pittandmoore.co.nz
DDI: +64 3 545 6714