The last month has been hectic to say the least. On the 28th February 2020, New Zealand registered its first confirmed case of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). No one foresaw what was about to unfold, as only a month later our borders were closed to International visitors and the country found itself in a 4 week lock down in an unprecedented government response to the disease. The consequences of this have been felt widespread throughout the country. At this moment in time all Immigration resources are focused on controlling our borders. With the lock down in place many of Immigration's processing departments have closed. On the 25th March the New Zealand government issued an Epidemic management Notice which gives it special powers to handle and deal with such events. Part of this legislation in conjunction with the Immigration Act 2009, allows for special provisions for visa holders .
From Thursday 2 April 2020 The New Zealand Government’s Epidemic Management Notice relating to immigration matters comes into effect.
People with a work, student, or visitor visa with an expiry date of 1 April 2020 or earlier and who are unable to leave New Zealand must apply online for a new visa. An interim visa will be issued.
People with a work, student, visitor, limited or interim visa with an expiry date of 2 April to 9 July 2020 inclusive who are in New Zealand on 2 April 2020 will have their visas automatically extended to 25 September 2020. Confirmation of extensions will be emailed to all visa holders.
You can find your visa expiry date in your eVisa letter.
How Immigration calculate the timing of which visas will be extended
The Immigration Act 2009 governs the timing of which visas are extended and those that aren’t. Visas that will expire within 14 days of the expiry of the epidemic notice are extended. The epidemic notice will expire on 25 June 2020.
This means where the visa expiry date stated in the visa is between 2 April and 9 July (inclusive) that visa will be extended. Those visas will now expire on 25 September 2020.
Why all visas are not automatically renewed
The section in the Immigration Act 2009 (section 78) only applies to temporary entry class visa holders who are in New Zealand and whose visas will expire within 14 days of the expiry of the Epidemic Management Notice.
What happens if you are not in New Zealand
If you are eligible to receive the extension, you must be onshore at the time the Epidemic Management Notice is issued. If you are not onshore, your visa duration will not be extended.
What happens if you are on a limited visa?
Limited visas will have their visa expiry date extended as well. You do not need to do anything.
What happens if you are on an interim visa?
It will be extended, if the expiry date of your interim visa is 14 days before the date that the Epidemic Management Notice will expire (that is, between 2 April and 9 July (inclusive).
This extension does not apply to residence visas
The extension only applies to temporary class visas (which are work, student, visitor, limited or interim visas)
What happens if you leave the country?
If you leave New Zealand you are unlikely be able to return because travel to New Zealand is currently restricted.
A new visa will replace your extended visa
If you are granted a new visa this will replace the visa you have at the moment. The duration of your new visa will be set by immigration instructions.
What happens to the conditions on your visa?
You will continue to have exactly the same visa conditions.
How you can change your visa conditions if necessary (for example, if your employer cannot pay you)
It may be difficult for you to make an application to vary the conditions of your current visa; we will provide more information once it is available.
The extension can be renewed later
If the Epidemic Notice is renewed, and the Epidemic Management Notice will also be renewed and so your visa expiry will be extended again. More information will be given before this happens, so keep an eye on the Immigration New Zealand website.