New Zealand’s successful management of COVID means quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and Australia will start on Monday 19 April, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed the conditions for starting to open up quarantine free travel with Australia have been met.
“The Director-General of Health considers the risk of transmission of COVID-19 from Australia to New Zealand is low and that quarantine free travel is safe to commence,” Jacinda Ardern said.
“Our team’s success in managing COVID-19 and keeping it out over the past 12 months now opens up the opportunity to reconnect with loved ones and resume Trans-Tasman travel.
“One sacrifice that has been particularly hard for many to bear over the past year has been the separation from friends and family who live in Australia, so today’s announcement will be a great relief for many.
“The bubble will give our economic recovery a boost and represents a world leading arrangement of safely opening up international travel while continuing to pursue a strategy of elimination and keeping the virus out.
“We have worked hard to ensure travel is safe and that the necessary public health measures are in place.
“Quarantine free travel will not be what it was pre-COVID-19, and those undertaking travel will do so under the guidance of ‘flyer beware’. People will need to plan for the possibility of having travel disrupted if there is an outbreak.
“Just as we have our alert level settings for managing cases in New Zealand, we will also now have a framework for managing New Zealanders in the event of an outbreak in Australia, which involves three possible scenarios: continue, pause, suspend,” Jacinda Ardern said.
COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said to ensure New Zealand remains on top of COVID-19, the Government has added further layers to manage risk at the border.
“To be eligible to travel to or from New Zealand on a quarantine-free flight, people must not have had a positive COVID-19 test result in the previous 14-day period and must not be awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test taken during that period,” Chris Hipkins said.
“When those in Australia decide to come to New Zealand, they will be making a booking on a green zone flight. That means that there will be no passengers on that flight who have come from anywhere but Australia in the last 14 days. They will also be flown by crew who have not flown on any high risk routes for a set period of time.
“Passengers will need to provide comprehensive information on how they can be contacted while in New Zealand, complete a pre-departure health declaration and won’t be able to travel if they have cold or flu symptoms.
“When they fly, they will be required to wear a mask on their flight, and will also be asked to download and use the NZ COVID Tracer app while in New Zealand.
“On arrival, passengers will be taken through what we call the green zones at the airport – meaning there will be no contact with those who are arriving from other parts of the world and going into managed isolation or quarantine.
“We will also be undertaking random temperature checks of those arriving as an added precaution.
“Final infection control audits for airports in particular are occurring over the next two weeks and are a requirement for each airport to operate. The Ministry of Health expects to have completed these and to have reported on them on 16 April.”
Chris Hipkins said it is estimated the bubble will free up 1,000 to 1,300 rooms per fortnight within MIQ.
“Of these, we will retain roughly 500 spaces as contingency should they be needed for the Trans-Tasman arrangement.
“We also have a small number of facilities that we consider to have only been suitable for travelers in quarantine from low risk countries. With the opening of travel, we will look to decommission these facilities – but in the meantime we are considering whether they could be used for other low risk countries, such as the Pacific Islands.
“As a result of this, we do not anticipate a large number of vacant quarantine spaces to come on stream. There will, however, still be thousands of spaces in MIQ for Kiwis. That’s how we have helped 130,000 safely return home through our managed isolation facilities.”
The Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi has today announced visa extensions and rule changes for some Visitor Visa holders:
Visitor visa holders will be able to stay in New Zealand a little longer as the Government eases restrictions for those still here, the Minister of Immigration has announced.
“The Government recognises that some visitor visa holders are keen to stay in New Zealand longer while the COVID-19 pandemic is still attacking communities in their home countries,” Kris Faafoi said.
“We have also listened to New Zealand’s business sector, including tourism ventures, which say foreign visitors who are still here can help our local economies.
“So, where people are here on visitor visas which expire on or before 31 March 2021, the Government will allow their visitor visas to be automatically extended by two months. During that two month extension, which will be applied from the date of expiry on their current visa, they will need to apply for a new visa to stay longer,” Kris Faafoi said.
The automatic extension will apply to around 12,500 visa holders.
The extension does not apply to visitors on the special Covid-19 short term two-month visitor visa, which was introduced in September last year.
In a second temporary change to immigration settings, the Government has agreed to temporarily waive a rule which states that visitor visa holders can only be in New Zealand for nine months out of an 18 month period.
“Most visa holders currently in New Zealand will have been here for more than nine months by now, which would have excluded them from applying for another visitor visa.
“Waiving this nine months of 18 rule means that visa holders who are still here can apply for a further six-month visa.
“While applicants with visitor visas expiring after 31 March 2021 won’t be eligible for the automatic two-month extension, they can still apply for a new visa that gives them exemption from the nine months of 18 rule if they apply for their new visa before 30 June 2021. That is because the temporary waiver of that nine months of 18 rule will end on 30 June 2021.
“Applicants will still need to meet all other requirements for a visitor visa, including proof that they have enough funds to support themselves in New Zealand, as well as pay for their travel home at the end of their stay,” Kris Faafoi said.
“While we have made these changes to help many visitors facing uncertain and worrying situations back in their home countries because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government wants to make clear that people who are here on visitor visas are here as guests for a limited time. We cannot guarantee further extensions or waivers when these changes expire,” Kris Faafoi said.
He pointed out that the Government expects all migrants in New Zealand to ensure they are here lawfully and are able to support themselves.
“Temporary migrants who are in New Zealand without the means to support themselves, or who become unlawful, are at risk of migrant exploitation or not being able to meet their basic needs. Migrants who stay here after their visas have expired also risk having their unlawful status count against them should they wish to travel to New Zealand or elsewhere in the world in the future,” Kris Faafoi warned.
Immigration New Zealand will email affected visa holders to confirm the visa extension by 5 March 2021.
The Government has announced visa changes to allow temporary migrant workers in New Zealand to continue to fill labour shortages. Employers are still expected to genuinely seek to fill job vacancies with New Zealanders.
Employer-assisted work visas extended by 6 months
Employer-assisted visas expiring from 1 January 2021 to 30 June 2021 (inclusive) will be automatically extended by another 6 months. This applies to the following visas:
Visas held by their partners and dependent children will also be extended.
Visa holders will receive confirmation of the extension from Immigration New Zealand by March 2021.
Lower-paid Essential Skills visa stand-down delayed for 12 months
The introduction of the stand-down period will be delayed until January 2022. The stand-down period means that Essential Skills visa holders earning less than the median wage must leave New Zealand after three years for one year before they can return.
Working Holiday Visas extended by 6 months
Working Holiday Visas that expire from 21 December 2020 to 30 June 2021 (inclusive) will be extended for 6 months. Conditions will be varied to allow the holders to continue in any employment that is not permanent in any sector until their visa expires. Any time limit on total work for one employer will no longer apply.
From 21 December 2020, Working Holiday Visa holders will no longer be transferred to the Supplementary Seasonal Employment (SSE) work visa when their Working Holiday visa expires. Migrant workers already on an SSE Visa can still choose to work in the horticulture and viticulture sectors, or apply for an Essential Skills visa if they find alternate qualifying work.
2019 median wage in effect until July 2021
Immigration New Zealand will continue to use the 2019 median wage of $25.50 to determine visa conditions until at least July 2021, at which point it will rise to $27 an hour.
Immigration New Zealand
Who is getting a visa extension?
Onshore employer assisted work visa holders (and their partners and dependent children) whose visas are expiring between 1 January and 30 June 2021 will have their visa automatically extended by another six months.
The following types of work visas will be extended:
From 21 December 2020, Working Holiday visa holders will no longer be transferred onto a Supplementary Seasonal Employer (SSE) work visa when their Working Holiday visa expires. Migrants already on an SSE visa will remain able to work for the horticulture and viticulture sectors, or apply for an Essential Skills visa if they find alternate qualifying work.
Why will Working Holiday visas no longer be transferred to the Supplementary Seasonal Employer work visa?
New Zealand is faced with a labour shortage across many industries. Working Holiday visa holders can and do still choose to work for the horticulture industry. Migrants already on an SSE visa will remain able to work for the horticulture and viticulture sectors, or apply for an Essential Skills visa if they find alternate qualifying work.
What about migrants who have lost their job already? Will their visa still be extended?
Any migrants who are unable to meet the conditions of their visa should make arrangements to depart New Zealand or apply for a new visa that best suits their circumstances.
Can a person leave and then come back on their extended visa?
The purpose of the visa extension is to provide short-term certainty to employers and migrant workers in New Zealand. If a person leaves New Zealand they will be subject to the current border restrictions and it is unlikely they will be able to return on their extended visa.
Can I still apply for a Variation of Conditions to change employer or roles if my visa has been extended?
Yes, people whose visa has been extended can still apply for a Variation of Conditions. They will still be required to meet the relevant immigration instructions to be granted a Variation of Conditions.
When will people be notified?
INZ will be emailing people who are identified as eligible for the visa extension during December 2020.
A second email will be sent by March 2021 once the visa records are updated in our systems. It is expected that migrants who have had their visa extended will be notified via email.
When and how will I be notified of my extension?
INZ will be contacting eligible visa holders to inform them of the visa extension. A second email will be sent by March 2021 to confirm the visa extension in the system. We will use the most recent email address that you provided to us.
If you did not receive an email it may be because we do not have your current email address. Please check all your email inboxes, including the spam in case it is there.
From March 2021 you can confirm your visa expiry date by checking the Visa Verification Service on our website. Employers can use Visaview to ensure employees have the right to work in New Zealand. Please note these details may not be up to date before March 2021. We are working to update all records as soon as possible.
I am on an Essential Skills visa and have lost my current job (made redundant). Can I get a Variation of Conditions as part of this automatic six month visa extension?
Visa conditions that require the visa holder to work in a specified occupation and for a specified employer remain in place under the extension. Any migrants who are unable to meet the conditions of their current visa, including migrants who have lost their jobs, should make arrangements to depart New Zealand or apply for a new visa that best suits their circumstances. This may include applying for a Variation of Conditions.
I lodged my application before the extensions were announced, and my work visa expires between 1 January and 30 June 2020. If that application gets declined will I still receive the extension for 6 months?
Yes, the visa extension is automatic for most employer assisted work visa holders and will be applied for six months from the original visa expiry date. Even if your application for a new visa is declined, the extension will remain in place.
I employ a working holidaymaker who has a visa condition that they can only work 3 months for any one employer. Does the extension mean they can continue to work for me even if they exceed the 3 months?
Yes, along with the visa extension, work restrictions on Working Holiday visas will be loosened to allow the visa holder to continue work in any employment except permanent employment until the new expiry date of their visa. Any time limit on total work or for one employer will no longer apply. Working holidaymakers still cannot take permanent employment so if you wish to offer this, they must apply for an appropriate work visa.
My working holiday visa states I can only work for 12 months in total and 6 months for one employer. Does the extension allow me to work in excess of this limit?
Yes, along with the visa extension work restrictions on Working Holiday visas will be loosened so you can choose to take on temporary work for any employer or in any industry until the new expiry date of your visa. The condition that you cannot take permanent employment on a working holiday visa still applies.
What about individuals on interim visas?
Interim visas are not automatically extended as part of this policy.
Can I get a refund if I have already submitted a new visa application but now have an extension?
Information about refunds is on the INZ website.
Why is the stand down period being delayed?
To provide certainty for employers in retaining their staff for longer during the response to COVID-19, even if their employee would have been subject to the stand-down period.
Why is INZ delaying increasing the median wage?
Statistics NZ has updated the median wage from $25.50 to $27.00. This 5.8% increase is unusually high and significant, due to some lower-paid roles dropping out of employment. INZ is delaying increasing the median wage that we use to assess applications until at least July 2021 to temporarily ease pressure on employers.
Immigration Implements Changes To Help Businesses Struggling To Find Hospitality Staff In The Queenstown Lake District
In recognition of the struggles some hospitality businesses in the Queenstown lakes District are currently facing in sourcing staff, an update to the undersupply list that Immigration New Zealand (INZ) used to help assess Essential Skill Work visa applications comes into effect from December 1st.
The following positions have been added to the undersupply list for the region provided to INZ by the Ministry of Social Development:
These changes are aimed at helping businesses support applications for roles that pay less than the median wage threshold of $25.50 per hour (this threshold was due to be reviewed in November so may change). Employers will still be required to demonstrate that they have made genuine attempts to find available New Zealanders to fill the vacancies.
If you are an employer looking to support an application or an individual looking to apply for a visa and want professional advice regarding your situation and how these changes could affect you, then book an appointment today to speak with our Licensed Immigration Adviser here: https://www.easyvisa.co.nz/book-an-appointment.html
The Minister of Immigration has increased the length of time visitors can study here without needing to apply for a ‘variation of conditions’ to their visa or a student visa.
People who held a valid visitor visa on Friday 11 September 2020, and are in New Zealand now, can now study for up to six months in a year. This gives them an extra three months on top of the usual three months they are allowed on a visitor visa.
This change also applies to school-age children attending school and people studying short courses with tertiary education providers.
People granted visitor visas after 11 September 2020 will have the standard visa condition allowing three months of study only.
With the horticulture and viticulture industry relying heavily on migrant workers to fill the labour demand during peak season the closure of New Zealand's borders has meant they are now facing severe labour shortages.
To help alleviate these challenges the government has just announced that Holiday Scheme visa holders who are in New Zealand with visas expiring between 1 October 2020 and March 2021, will be automatically granted Supplementary Seasonal Employment (SSE) visas.
This will allow them to work until 30 June 2021 in horticulture and viticulture seasonal roles where there are not enough New Zealanders available to do the work.
The Government is changing the visitor visa system to help temporary migrants and visitors to remain in New Zealand lawfully while they arrange to leave the country.
The Government is automatically extending current onshore visitor visas that are due to expire between 4 September and the end of October 2020 by five months.
Some visitor visa categories will not be extended. These include the critical purpose visa holders, guardians of students, and partners or dependants linked to a work visa holder whose visa was extended previously.
Those eligible for the extension will be contacted by mid-September.
In addition the government are also introducing a new two-month COVID-19 short-term visitor visa to allow temporary migrants stranded in New Zealand more time to arrange their travel home. Visitor visa rights will still apply so anyone wishing to take on employment must still apply for the relevant work visa to do so.
The COVID-19 short-term visitor visa is intended to 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.
Individuals can apply for the COVID-19 short-term visitor visa from mid-September. They will need to pay a fee when applying.
More details on how to apply for the COVID-19 short-term visitor visa will be available on the Immigration New Zealand website by mid-September.
If you are wishing to stay in New Zealand beyond the end of your visitor visa and are wishing to explore the options available to you then Easy Visa can help. Book an eligibility consultation with our licensed immigration adviser today.
Further details have just been released by Immigration New Zealand (INZ) regarding the upcoming changes to how Essential Work Visas will be determined after the 27th July.
As previously announced, INZ are planning to move away from using the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) to determine the skill level and subsequent visa duration and instead will base visa duration against an applicant’s remuneration rate.
Any application submitted from 27th July will either be assessed as high-pay or low-pay. Anyone earning at least the current median pay rate of $25.50 will be assessed as high-pay and if successful in their application will receive a 3 year visa. Anyone earning under this rate will be deemed low-pay and if successful will be issued a 6 month visa. The maximum combined duration of all work visas for jobs paying below the median wage is 3 years. After that time, you will be subject to a stand down period of 12 months.
Employers who are paying at least the minimum wage of $25.50/hour will also not need to engage with Work and Income when demonstrating that they have made genuine attempts through advertising to fill the role with a suitable New Zealander or Resident Visa holder.
In addition to these changes there are also new rules about how Essential Work Visa holders can support partners. Low skilled workers who have been granted 6 month visas will now be able to support their partners on this visa. Their partners will only be issued with visitor visa rights, however this gives them the opportunity to remain in New Zealand and acquire a work visa in their own right if they wish to. Dependent children may also be supported and granted either a student or visitor visas (subject to meeting minimum income requirements).
People who have been issued with 3-year visas can also support partners and partners will be given open work rights to work for any employer during the duration of their visa.
These changes have been introduced to help offset the increase in unemployment that is expected as the impact of COVID-19 continues to be felt. As we start to see many changes to Immigration policy introduced it is important that if you are unsure of your situation that you seek professional advice tailored to your situation.
To book an appointment with a Licensed Immigration Adviser at Easy Visa please click here -
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The Government Has Just Announced Some Short Term Changes To Visa Settings For Temporary Work Visa Holders In New Zealand.
As the ongoing situation with COVID-19 continues to impact New Zealand and the rest of the world, Immigration New Zealand has just announced several changes to temporary work visas that aim to help businesses maintain their existing workforce for an extended period of time, while ensuring opportunities for New Zealanders are not negatively impacted in the short and longer-term.
There are three key changes.
The first change is to extend all existing employer-assisted temporary work visas for people who are in New Zealand and whose visas are due to expire before the end of 2020 by six months. That includes work visa holders whose visas are due to expire after 9 July, as well as those visas that were previously extended to 25 September under the Epidemic Management Notice.
To align with the six month extension for temporary work visa holders in New Zealand, the second change is to delay the introduction of the 12 month stand down period for lower-paid workers who have had their employer-assisted work visa extended.
The stand-down period means that people who have been in New Zealand on a lower-paid Essential Skills visa for three years are unable to be granted a new Essential Skills visas until they have spent 12 months outside New Zealand.
This time-limited change will enable lower-paid migrants who are subject to the stand-down between August 2020 and the end of December 2020 to stay in New Zealand and work for the same employer in the same occupation and location for up to a further six months, in line with their visa extension.
However, the stand down period will still apply if a migrants who is subject to the stand down moves to another lower-paid Essential skills work visa.
The third change is to reduce the duration of all new lower-paid Essential Skills work visas from 12 months to six months to mitigate future labour market risks.
This will apply to all new lower-paid Essential Skills work visa applications lodged from 10 July.
Applications received prior to 10 July will still be granted a 12 months visa if approved.
Together, these changes provide more certainty in the short-term while businesses look to recover from COVID-19 and enable employers to utilise the skills of work visa holders they already employ.
With New Zealand's Immigration policy regularly adapting to the current pandemic we highly recommend seeking professional advice if you are unsure of your situation or wish to seek further clarity in the options available to you moving forward. To book an appointment with our licensed immigration adviser please visit - https://www.easyvisa.co.nz/book-an-appointment.html
The Government has agreed to relax visa conditions for a short period to allow temporary migrant workers and international students to further assist with our essential services during the COVID-19 response. This decision will help essential businesses that are operating during Alert Level 4 to keep operating while New Zealand remains at Alert Level 3 or 4.
Work visa holders with employer-specific work visas already employed in essential services will be able to vary their hours and be redeployed to do other roles within their current workplace. They can also perform their current role in a different workplace to help essential businesses keep operating while New Zealand remains at Alert Level 3 or 4 and for six weeks after that.
International students who are already employed in an essential services role will be able to work longer hours for their current employer while New Zealand remains at Alert Level 3 or 4 and for six weeks following. Students who are employed in an essential services role and wish to work more than 20 hours must still meet their study requirements and should discuss their plans with their education provider.
The short time-frame will enable employers in essential industries to maintain their labour pool as hiring would be very difficult while New Zealand remains at Alert Level 3 or 4.
Any amendment to an employee’s conditions of work must be compliant with normal New Zealand employment law and the individual or collective employment agreement relevant to the employee.
People holding interim visas are not able to apply for a Variation of Conditions.
There are no fees or levies payable for a Variation of Conditions under this special category.
The changes come into effect on Thursday 16 April 2020 and the INZ website will be updated with further information, including the relevant form, as soon as possible.
A list of essential sectors during Alert Level 3 or 4 can be found on: MBIE | Essential sectors