The Government is making short-term, practical changes to visa settings to help visitors and other temporary migrants remain in New Zealand lawfully while they arrange travel home, says Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi.
The changes are:
- Automatically extending current onshore visitor visas that are due to expire before the end of October 2020 for five-months.
- Introducing a new two-month COVID-19 short-term visitor visa to help temporary migrants who are unable to leave New Zealand due to international travel restrictions when their current visa expires.
The changes only apply to people already in New Zealand.
“Temporary migrants need to have a valid visa to remain lawfully in New Zealand, otherwise they are required to leave the country. However, we know that international travel restrictions due to COVID-19 have affected many people’s ability to leave New Zealand before their visas expire,” Kris Faafoi said.
“These changes will provide visitors and other temporary migrants stranded in New Zealand with more certainty and time to organise travel arrangements home.
There are approximately 19,000 people onshore in New Zealand who hold current visitor visas that are eligible for the automatic five-month extension from the date their current visa expires.
Since March 2020, around 268,000 foreign nationals have departed New Zealand.
On top of the automatic extension for visitor visa holders, the new two-month COVID-19 short-term visitor visa will help people reaching the end of their current visitor, work, student or partnership visa who may not meet the criteria for another visa, and need time to arrange travel home.
“To be eligible for the COVID-19 short-term visitor visa, Immigration New Zealand must be satisfied visitor visa holders are genuinely unable to leave New Zealand as a result of COVID-19, they are intending to depart, and they meet normal good character requirements.
“However, temporary migrants who choose to apply for the COVID-19 short-term visitor visa will not need to meet other usual visitor visa requirements, such as demonstrating that they have enough money to support their stay, having existing onward travel arrangements, or that they’ve met time-limits for their stay in New Zealand.
“These are short-term, practical measures that are designed to help people remain lawful in New Zealand while they get their travel home organised,” Kris Faafoi said.
More details on how to apply for the COVID-19 short-term visitor visa will be available on Immigration New Zealand’s website by mid-September.