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Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has published guidance about the exemptions to the current travel ban.

 

What is the current travel ban?

From 23:59pm on Thursday, 19 March, New Zealand closed its borders. The assumption is that people can no longer enter New Zealand, unless there are very exceptional circumstances.

 

What are the exemptions or exceptional circumstances?

Anyone who is permitted to enter New Zealand, under one of the exemptions must enter into self-isolation for 14 days, upon arrival. This is being strictly enforced. These exemptions could be curtailed if migrants do not adequately adhere to the self-isolation requirements.

 

It is also recommend that people wishing to travel to New Zealand, under one of the exemptions, ensure that they have identified a route by which they can travel to New Zealand.

 

We have summarised the main exemptions below.

 

 

New Zealand citizens and residents

This does not include residents who have not yet activated their residence visa, by travelling to NZ for the first time.

 

Australian citizens and permanent residents

This is only if New Zealand is his or her “primary place of established residence”. This can be proven with documents such as bank statements, wage slips, tax statements, and mortgage statements.

 

The Australian citizen or permanent resident should request permission to travel to New Zealand before travel. This can be done at Request to Travel to New Zealand. An Immigration Officer should then be in touch, within 48 hours, to provide guidance on how to proceed.

 

Partners of New Zealand citizens and residents

This is only if the partner will travel with the New Zealand resident or citizen, to New Zealand.

 

If the partner already has a visa, he or she must request permission to apply for a “Variation of Conditions” (VOC) to that visa, before travelling. If the partner does not have a visa, he or she must request permission to apply for a visitor visa, again before travelling. Both of these requests can be made through Request to Travel to New Zealand.

 

An Immigration Officer should be in touch, within 48 hours, to provide guidance on how to proceed.

 

If a visitor visa is granted, then it will be valid for six or 12 months, depending on the circumstances. The visa is likely to be conditional upon the partner travelling with the New Zealand citizen or resident.

 

Dependent children of New Zealand citizens and residents

Some INZ guidance suggests that this includes children up to the age of 25. However, more recent guidance suggests that it is only children up to the age of 20 who can be included.

 

If the child already has a visa, he or she must request permission to apply for a VOC to that visa, and before travelling. If the child does not have a visa, he or she must request permission to apply for a visitor visa, again before travelling. Both of these requests can be made at Request to Travel to New Zealand An Immigration Officer should be in touch, within 48 hours, to provide guidance on how to proceed.

 

The visitor visa, if granted, will be valid for six or 12 months, depending on the circumstances. The visa is likely to be conditional upon the child travelling with the New Zealand citizen or resident.

 

Essential health workers

Essential health workers are people who hold “key clinical or non-clinical positions” in:

  • A District Health Board;
  • The New Zealand Blood Service;
  • A hospice or palliative care provider;
  • A primary care practice such as an urgent care or medical or healthcare centre;
  • An aged residential care, respite or continuing care facility.

 

“Key clinical or non-clinical positions” include:

  • Medical doctors and Nurses;
  • Midwives;
  • Psychologists;
  • Aged care support staff;
  • Mental health support staff;
  • Laboratory support staff.

The full list is on the INZ website.

 

Obviously, the applicant must show that he or she meets any professional registration requirements, such as registration with the New Zealand Medical Council.

 

If the worker already has a visa, he or she must make a request to apply for a VOC, to enable travel to New Zealand. If the worker does not have a visa he or she must make a request to be able to apply for a visa. Both of these requests can be done through Request to Travel to New Zealand. An Immigration Officer should be in touch, within 48 hours, to provide guidance on how to proceed.

 

The visitor/work visa (or varied work visa) may allow work in any occupation, for any employer, anywhere in New Zealand. A visitor visa will be valid for up to 12 months and a work visa for up to 24 months.

 

Partners and dependent children of essential health workers

If the child or partner already has a visa, he or she must make a request to be able to apply for a VOC to that visa before travelling. If the child or partner does not have a visa, he or she must make a request to be able to apply for a visitor visa, before travelling. Both of these requests can be done through Request to Travel to New Zealand, preferably at the same time as the essential health worker requests his or her permission to apply for a VOC or visa. An Immigration Officer should be in touch, within 48 hours, to provide guidance on how to proceed.
The visitor visa will be valid for six or 12 months depending on the circumstances

 

Other essential workers

A list of essential workers has not been published. However, it is likely to include occupations that are critical to delivering the response to Covid-19 and/or maintaining critical infrastructure. We anticipate that it will include people involved in key food and energy related distribution/logistics, as well as IT infrastructure occupations to support the internet and essential logistical operations.

 

If a worker already has a work visa, he or she can make a request to apply for a VOC to allow travel. If he or she does not yet have a work visa, then they can make a request to apply for a visa. Both of these requests can be made at Request to Travel to New Zealand. An Immigration Officer should be in touch, within 48 hours, to provide guidance on how to proceed.

 

We understand that the visa can be valid for up to 24 months, of a work visa is granted, or up to 12 months if a visitor visa with work conditions is granted. The essential worker should be permitted to work in any occupation, in any location, anywhere in New Zealand.

 

Partners and dependent children of essential workers

They can make a request to apply for a visa or a VOC (if a visa is already held) to join their partner in New Zealand. However, whether permission to apply for a visa or a VOC will depend on the circumstances.

 

Again, both types of request can be made through Request to Travel to New Zealand, and preferably at the same time as the essential worker makes his or her request. An Immigration Officer should be in touch, within 48 hours, to provide guidance on how to proceed.

 

The partner’s visitor visa will be valid for six or 12 months depending on the circumstances.

 

Partners and dependent children of people who are already here with work visas or student visas

This is for people who have travelled outside of New Zealand, leaving behind a partner who is studying or working, in New Zealand. These existing visa holders can make a request to be able to apply for a VOC to allow them to return to New Zealand. They can make the request at Request to Travel to New Zealand. An Immigration Officer should be in touch, within 48 hours, to provide guidance on how to proceed.

 

If the request is successful, the partner and dependent children can apply to have their existing visa(s) amended to enable travel to New Zealand.

 

Exceptional humanitarian situation

These situations must be humanitarian circumstances that make it “strongly desirable” for the migrant to be able to travel to New Zealand.

 

When considering a request, INZ will take into account:

  • the applicant’s connection to New Zealand;
  • his or her connection to the place where they are currently based;
  • whether New Zealand is their primary base of residence and how long they have been away;
  • whether the applicant has any other options; and
  • the impact of not granting the visa.

 

If the request is successful, then the applicant will be invited to apply for a visitor or work visa, depending on the circumstances.

 

What happens next?

It is unclear how long the travel ban will remain in place. Also, INZ has limited capacity to consider travel requests. Therefore, we recommend that people who may fit into one of the above exemptions request permission to travel as soon as possible, and provide all necessary supporting information and then documentation, if they are invited to apply.

What about migrants who are already in New Zealand?

Some initial guidance is available at Migrants affected by Covid-19 lockdown. We are awaiting further information, from INZ, in respect of variations to existing work visa requirements to address employers’ and migrants’ immediate concerns.

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