The Government is bringing forward the date for opening the border to tourists in time for the Australian school holidays, in a move that will help accelerate the economic recovery from COVID-19, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today.
From 11.59pm Tuesday 12 April, Australians will be able to travel to New Zealand isolation-free, and then two and a half weeks later from 11.59pm Sunday 1 May, vaccinated travellers from visa-waiver countries such as the large tourist markets of the UK, US, Japan, Germany, Korea and Singapore, and those with valid visitor visas, will be able to arrive.
“Closing our border was one of the first actions we took to stop COVID-19 two years ago. It did the job we needed. But now that we’re highly vaccinated and predicted to be off our Omicron peak, it’s now safe to open up,” Jacinda Ardern said.
“Reopening in time for the upcoming Australian school holidays will help spur our economic recovery in the short term and is good news for the winter ski season.
“Trans-Tasman travellers have historically made up 40 per cent of our international arrivals, with around 1.5 million Australians visiting each year.
“While we know it will take some time to see tourism scale up again, today’s announcement will be a welcome boost for our tourism operators who have done it harder than many over the last two years.
“In a world still battling COVID-19, travellers will be discerning about where they go in the short term. Our strong health response including the lowest death rate in the OECD over the past two years and our high rates of vaccination, alongside our reputation as a beautiful place to visit, will be an asset in this market.
“I am proud that New Zealand is a country which is able to provide a safe place for tourists to return to due to our strong health response to COVID-19.
“We can see from our record export prices for our goods that New Zealand is in demand internationally at the moment. A big focus of the rest of this year will be encouraging the world to buy our goods and to visit.
“During my international engagements throughout this year, I will be helping to lead the charge to accelerate growth in our top export sectors – primary industries and tourism – by encouraging people to buy New Zealand made, and to come and enjoy our hospitality.
“An earlier reopening for tourism, and the air travel that brings, also increases capacity for our exports, helping to lower freight rates and the flow-on costs of goods that stems from that.
“We know that traveller numbers will be below pre-COVID levels for awhile and tourism globally will take time to rebound, but today’s announcement means were we’re ready to go, so haere mai welcome back,” Jacinda Ardern said.
Tourists will not need to isolate on arrival, they will be required to have had a pre-departure test, with two further rapid antigen tests on day 0/1 and 5/6.
Prior to COVID-19, tourism contributed 5.5 per cent to GDP, bringing in about $41 billion altogether, international making up $17 billion of that. It was also responsible for 8 per cent of our national workforce.
Further advice will be received shortly on options for non-visa waiver travellers, which are currently due to come in from October.
Today New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern unveiled her government's plan to reopen the country to vaccinated travellers from all over the world in five stages across 2022.
The Government’s reconnecting plan will see all New Zealanders and key visa holders able to start to enter the country over the coming three months, assisting with the economic recovery and immediately address worker shortages.
“This is a very carefully developed plan that replaces MIQ for the vast majority of travellers while ensuring we maintain ongoing measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our community from recent arrivals,” Chris Hipkins said.
“With 94 percent of our population fully vaccinated, and 92 percent of those over 18 now eligible for a booster by the end of February it’s time to shift gears in our COVID-19 response to focus on reconnection and recovery.
“By reducing the gap to get boosted to three months we’re ensuring we reach our highest possible boosted rates before fully reopening.
“By the time we start to reopen our border, we’ll be one of the most vaccinated and most boosted countries in the world and the COVID-19 Protection Framework will be well established in helping to manage COVID outbreaks.
“Our plan has built in protections to help manage risks such as future variants. A phased approach to reopening reduces the risk of a surge of cases, while prioritising the return of New Zealanders and much needed entry of skilled workers.
“Having MIQ for every traveller was a temporary setting for when none of us had protection. New Zealanders need to reconnect with one another. Families and friends need to reunite. Our businesses need skills to grow. Exporters need to travel to make new connections,” Chris Hipkins said.
STEP 1 From 11.59pm, Sunday 27 February 2022
STEP 2 From 11:59 pm, Sunday 13 March 2022
STEP 3 From 11:59 pm, Tuesday 12 April 2022
STEP 4 By July 2022
STEP 5 October 2022
Steps 1 and 2
“From 27 February, vaccinated New Zealanders and eligible travellers from Australia will be able to enter New Zealand without staying in MIQ and two weeks later from 13 March, New Zealanders and eligible travellers from the rest of the world will be able to come home,” Chris Hipkins said.
“While travellers will no longer need to stay in MIQ we are maintaining border measures to reduce the spread of the virus.
“The self-isolation requirements for travellers will mirror the way we treat contacts of cases in New Zealand. That means a current requirement of 10 days, but that will drop to 7 days when we move to phase two of our pandemic plan as cases rise.
“Isolation requirements will be kept under constant review, and we do expect them to reduce. The reopening to visa free tourists is also likely to be brought forward, with July being the latest date we anticipate this happening.
“All arrivals will be provided three rapid antigen tests at the airport, one for use on day 0/1, and one for use on day 5/6, with one extra for backup. This approach means we will continue to identify cases that enter through the border and limit their wider contact with the community.
“In addition we will continue to whole genome sequence all returnees who test positive to rapidly identify and respond to new variants,” Chris Hipkins said.
Steps 3 to 5
“This plan represents a significant step forward in addressing skills and labour shortages and accelerates our economic recovery,” Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi said.
“Reopening of the border to a range of visa holders is a critical part in our plan to rebuild from COVID.
“From 13 March, just over 5 weeks away, we will start re-opening Working Holiday Visa schemes. This will supply urgently needed workers for the tourism, hospitality, wine and horticultural sectors as well as providing some much-needed visitor spending.
“Also from 13 March, we’re simplifying the application process for the critical worker border exception. Skilled workers with job offers paying at least 1.5 times, instead of double, the median wage will be able to come in without the need to demonstrate that their skills aren’t readily obtainable in New Zealand.
“Before COVID, New Zealand was issuing over one million visitor visas per year. What’s being announced today is about gearing up in manageable steps to fully re-open as safely as possible to enable us to live with COVID but not be overwhelmed by it,” Kris Faafoi said.
COVID-19 Response Minister, Chris Hipkins, has today laid out the Government's plans on how the New Zealand borders will begin to reopen in stages from early next year.
Fully vaccinated New Zealanders will find it easier to come home from January 2022, with foreign nationals to follow from April onwards, as the Government removes the requirement for MIQ for most travellers, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today.
“Closing our border was one of the first steps we took to keep our country safe from COVID-19 and it’ll be the last thing we open up, following our transition into the traffic light protection framework system and lifting of the Auckland boundary,” Chris Hipkins said.
“We have a clear, simple and safe plan, including a mandatory period of self-isolation. The border will open in three steps and all travellers not required to go into MIQ will still require:
“We are making this announcement today to give families, businesses, visitors and airline and airport companies certainty and time to prepare. It’s very encouraging that as a country we are now in a position to move towards greater normality.
“We always said we’d open in a controlled way, and this started with halving the time spent in MIQ to seven days. Retaining a seven-day isolate at home period for fully vaccinated travellers is an important phase in the reconnecting strategy to provide continued safety assurance. These settings will continue to be reviewed against the risk posed by travellers entering New Zealand.
“For details around when travellers can enter New Zealand without going into MIQ:
Step 1 – opening to fully vaccinated New Zealand citizens and those residence-class visa holders and other travellers eligible under our current settings from Australia from 11.59 pm on 16 January 2022 (provided they have been in Australia or New Zealand for the past 14 days)
Step 2 – opening to fully vaccinated New Zealand citizens and those residence-class visa holders and other travellers eligible under our current border settings, from all but Very High-Risk countries, from 11.59pm Sunday 13 February.
Step 3 – opening to fully vaccinated foreign nationals (possibly staged by visa category), from 30 April onwards
“Some people and businesses want us to start to open up before Christmas, and that’s understandable, but others want us to be more cautious. We acknowledge it’s been tough but the end of heavily restricted travel is now in sight,” Chris Hipkins said.
“There continues to be a global pandemic with cases surging in Europe and other parts of the world, so we do need to be very careful when reopening the border.
“In the end, we’ve done what we’ve always done, and that is to follow expert advice – which continues to show us the border is our biggest risk for new cases. For example, our current outbreak which now has over 7000 cases associated with it, stems from a single traveller traveling from Australia to New Zealand.
“A phased approach to reconnecting with the world is the safest approach to ensure risk is carefully managed. This reduces any potential impacts on vulnerable communities and the New Zealand health system.”
“Our dates for opening of borders logically follows the bedding in of the traffic light system, the lifting of the Auckland border, time for regions to get their vaccination rates higher still and for booster shots to be rolled out.
“Further details on how self-isolation will be implemented will be made available in December, and include guidance on how people can travel from their arrival airport to their location of self-isolation and requirements for the places where they can self-isolate.
“This does not mean the end of MIQ as a system, which was always intended to be temporary at this scale and has served us incredibly well – with more than 190,000 people brought home since our borders closed in March 2020.
“There will continue to be a role for it in the foreseeable future.”
The Australian Government has approved the recommencement of green zone travel from the South Island of New Zealand from 11:59 pm (AEST) on Tuesday 19 October 2021, subject to the following recommended pre-departure measures:
have not been in the North Island of New Zealand for any period during the last 14 days.
At this time, green zone travel to Australia is not extended for persons that have been in the North Island of New Zealand and/or a New Zealand Ministry of Health COVID-19 Contact Tracing Location of Interest for any period of time in the past 14 days.
The government has today announced a new Resident Visa Category that could give up to 165,000 migrants a new potential pathway to residency. The following information is taken from the Immigration website and further details about fees and the application process will be available by the end of October 2021:
Some work visa holders currently in New Zealand as well as some critical purpose visitor visa holders may be eligible to apply for residence under the new residence category – the 2021 Resident Visa.
On 30 September 2021, the Government announced a new one-off residence visa pathway for some temporary work visa holders currently in New Zealand. Those arriving in New Zealand between 30 September 2021 and 31 July 2022 on long-term critical purpose visas (for six months or more) may also be eligible for this new visa. Partners and dependents can be included as part of these residence applications.
Applications will be open in two phases from 1 December 2021 for some eligible applicants and from 1 March 2022 for remaining eligible applicants.
All applications must be submitted by 31 July 2022.
Applicants must have met the criteria on 29 September 2021.
To be eligible you must:
You must also meet one of the three criteria:
If you meet the criteria for eligibility but are in Australia and have been unable to return to New Zealand by 29 September 2021, you may be considered eligible.
All applicants must be on an eligible visa. These are:
Some Critical Purpose Visitor Visas (CPVV):
Partners and dependent children, including those currently outside New Zealand, can be included in residence applications.
All applicants must meet the heath and character requirements for the 2021 Resident Visa. Overseas police certificates will not be required unless specifically requested by an Immigration Officer. Limited medical certificates and chest x-ray certificates may be required for some people. Immigration New Zealand may request further information as part of the application process.
Individuals who do not meet the criteria will need to look at what other residence pathways or temporary visa options may be available to them.
Critical Purpose visitor holders
Two groups of Critical Purpose visitor visa holders will be eligible, as long as you arrive in New Zealand and apply before 31 July 2022.
Applicants who have lived in New Zealand for three or more years
To be eligible under this criteria, you must have lived in New Zealand for the past three or more years and
If you need to check how much time you have spent in New Zealand, you are able to request your travel movements from Immigration New Zealand.
Applicants earning at or above the median wage
To be eligible under this criteria, you must be paid the median wage of NZD $27 per hour or above on 29 September 2021.
Applicants working in a job on a scarce list
To be eligible under this criteria, on 29 September 2021 you must work in a job that is on a scarce list. These are:
The 2021 Resident visa will be open for applications in two phases, with the first group of people able to apply from 1 December 2021.
From 1 December 2021 you can apply if:
From 1 March 2022 all other eligible applicants can apply, including all others who have submitted a Skilled Migrant Category Expression of Interest.
All applications must be made by 31 July 2022.
Applications can be submitted online.
More information about fees and the application process will be available on this page by the end of October.
Those who are eligible to apply from 1 December 2021 will receive an email from Immigration New Zealand by the end of October with further information.
It is expected the majority of applications will be processed within 12 months, with most being processed much faster.
For months the Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi has been saying that he will be making an announcement 'soon' regarding the suspended Expression of Interest pool for the Skilled Migrant Category and potential changes to residency visa policy. It appears that the long wait may finally be over with an announcement expected tomorrow (30/09/21). We will update you once any changes have been confirmed.
The Government is increasing the duration of some Essential Skills visas and streamlining the application process to provide more certainty to employers and visa holders while COVID border restrictions remain in place.
“We recognise the ongoing labour demand pressures faced by some sectors and we want to make the most of the skills we have in the country. So the Government is making it easier for businesses to continue employing their current migrant workers,” Minister of Immigration Kris Faafoi said
From Monday 19 July, the maximum duration of Essential Skills visas, for jobs paid below the median wage, will increase from 12 months to 24 months. The maximum duration of Essential Skills visas for jobs paid above the median wage is already three years.
The application process for Essential Skills visas will also be simplified for workers remaining in their current roles.
Employers won’t be required to complete a labour market test where a worker is applying for a visa for a full time role which the worker already holds. These applicants also won’t need to provide medical and police certificates to Immigration New Zealand if that information has been supplied previously.
A labour market test will still be required where employers are filling a job vacancy to prove there are no New Zealanders available before a migrant worker can be hired. This is in line with the Government’s objective to ensure Kiwis are prioritised for jobs.
“These changes complement the recent extension we granted for around 10,000 Working Holiday and Supplementary Seasonal Employment visa holders,” Kris Faafoi said.
“The Government is listening to business concerns,” said Tourism Minister, Stuart Nash.
“COVID support previously rolled out to businesses has been designed to keep workers connected to employers and keep tourism businesses operating while international borders are closed. The decision to extend Essential Skills visas and simplify application processes is the next step, and will be welcomed by sectors like tourism and hospitality where employers are keen to retain their current migrant workers,” Stuart Nash said.
The Agriculture Minister, Damien O’Connor, said the changes acknowledged feedback he had been getting from the primary sector where employers were desperate to hang onto migrant staff, like dairy farm managers, who had often worked for the same employer for several years on an Essential Skills visa.
“I want to thank the farming leadership that has been working with the government on these changes.
“This will provide welcome certainty for those farmers and farm workers, and adds to the recent border exception to bring in 200 migrant dairy farm workers and their families,” Damien O’Connor said.
The Immigration Minister said these Essential Skills visa changes would be temporary measures to support employers in the unique COVID-19 situation and were part of the Government’s ongoing review of border settings to balance New Zealand’s economic needs with the successful COVID health response that has kept the virus out of our communities.
“Our long-term vision for immigration settings is to grow talent here in New Zealand and build a more self-reliant labour market. The Government’s $320 million targeted investment for free trades training, which has helped just over 144,000 people into training in the past year, is part of that vision,” Kris Faafoi said.
“We want to work with sectors and seem them develop plans to attract, train and upskill Kiwis into roles, and invest in productivity changes that can help them move away from a reliance on low-paid and low-skilled migrant workers. Many sectors and employers are already looking at how to make those shifts as a result of COVID pressure on the supply of workers,” Kris Faafoi said.
Extending Essential Skills visas to last two years means the new Accredited Employer Work Visa, which was due to come into effect on 1 November, will be delayed until the middle of next year. An update will be provided as soon as an exact date is confirmed.
“The Government remains committed to the Accredited Employer Work Visa, which will ensure work visas issued reflect genuine regional skill shortages and strengthen labour market testing. However, we expect most Essential Skills visa holders will apply for this two-year visa, meaning the implementation of the Accredited Employer Work scheme would not be viable because of likely low uptake.
“Employers will be kept updated on any further changes and more detailed guidance on the new system ahead of the introduction of the Accredited Employer Work Visa next year,” Kris Faafoi said.
Changes to onshore visas will provide employers and visa holders with more certainty, Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi has announced.
Around 10,000 Working Holiday visas and Supplementary Seasonal Employment (SSE) work visas due to expire between 21 June 2021 and 31 December 2021 will be extended for another six months to help manage ongoing labour shortages while New Zealand’s COVID-19 border restrictions remain in place.
SSE visa holders will also be given open work rights, allowing them to work in any sector.
“This will provide employers with an assurance that they can continue to access the current onshore workforce to help fill roles.
“It will also put the minds of visa holders at ease knowing they can stay and work in New Zealand for the foreseeable future,” Kris Faafoi said.
“We will continue to monitor the border and labour market situations and will extend these visas again if necessary.”
Essential Skills work visas will not be extended again, but the duration of Essential Skills visas for jobs paid below the median wage will increase from six to 12 months taking them back to pre-COVID settings. The implementation of the stand-down period for these jobs will also be further postponed until July 2022.
“These changes will provide more certainty to workers and their employers that workers whose skills are still needed can remain in New Zealand, subject to labour market testing to prove there are no New Zealanders available to fill the role if an employer wants to support a work visa application,” Kris Faafoi said.
“The visa extensions and deferral of the stand-down period are temporary measures and reflect the Government’s commitment to support employers and sectors facing workforce shortages while our border restrictions remain in place.
“This approach is in line with the overall objective of new temporary work visa reforms that are designed to ensure New Zealanders are prioritised for work opportunities.”
Alongside these changes to Essential Skills work visas, from 19 July, visa applications will be assessed against the updated median hourly wage rate of $27. This pay rate will determine whether jobs are treated as higher or lower paid. The wage rate was set following public consultation.
Employers paying under the median wage can still access migrant workers but will need to check with the Ministry of Social Development to see whether a registered job seeker is available.
“The Government recently outlined our long-term vision for New Zealand’s immigration system which will involve sectors making a managed transition to new ways of attracting, training and upskilling Kiwis into jobs and investing in productivity measures that will support New Zealand’s COVID-19 recovery.
“We encourage sectors and employers to think about how to make this shift and look for ways to recruit New Zealanders before turning to temporary migrant workers,” Kris Faafoi said.
Immigration New Zealand will contact all visa holders eligible for the Working Holiday or SSE visa extension by 25 June 2021.
For professional advice regarding your personal situation and how these changes may affect you, book a consultation with one of our licensed advisers today - https://www.easyvisa.co.nz/book-an-appointment.html
A major shakeup to the New Zealand Temporary Work Visa category is quickly approaching and employers and employees need to be ready.
Immigration New Zealand have confirmed that they plan to introduce a new Accredited Employer Work Visa effective from 1st November 2021. This new visa will replace 6 different existing work visas. Their intention is to streamline the work visa category and to ensure that employers are using migrant workers to fill genuine and high skill needs.
The following work visas will be replaced on November 1st 2021:
If you are an employer who currently employs migrant workers or intends to employ migrant workers in the future, then you must now apply for accreditation to do so. Employers will be able to apply for accreditation from the 1st September ready for the November 1st start date.
If you are an employer and need help applying for accreditation, or you are an employee and are not sure how the changes will impact you then make an appointment today to speak to one of our licensed immigration advisers.
Click here to book an appointment today.
From 17 May, you can travel between New Zealand and the Cook Islands without having to go into managed isolation or self-isolation when you arrive. This is called quarantine-free travel.
Anyone in New Zealand can travel quarantine-free to the Cook Islands, as long as they meet the eligibility criteria and immigration requirements.
You can visit each country for any length of time and you do not need to stay for 14 days before you return.
You can travel to the outer islands after you arrive in Rarotonga. You do not need to self-isolate in Rarotonga before you continue your journey to the outer islands.
Quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and the Cook Islands does not include Australia. You must spend 14 full days in New Zealand before you can continue your journey through to the Cook Islands or Australia.
Quarantine-free travel is available on commercial aircraft only.