Holders of New Zealand resident visas, who are currently outside New Zealand with their travel conditions about to expire, will be able to get an extension or new visa. New Zealand’s current border restrictions due to the pandemic have significantly impacted offshore visa holders, in particular, those who are prevented from being able to travel to the country to start their new resident visa; or those with a resident visa that has recently expired or is due to expire soon.
It is understood that these people have recently met residence criteria, and would already be contributing to New Zealand had they arrived or returned before travel was limited due to Covid-19 restrictions in early 2020.
The Minister of Immigration will set in place new powers to grant a 12-month visa extension to offshore resident visa holders whose travel conditions are about to expire. All those whose travel conditions expired on or after 2 February 2020 will be issued a fresh visa, which is valid for 12 months.
All those who were granted a resident visa overseas and have never used it to travel to New Zealand, will still require permission from the government prior to travel into the country.
Border restrictions: who can enter New Zealand or request to travel?
Any travellers to New Zealand from other countries are tested for COVID-19 and have to undertake a 14-day managed quarantine or isolation. Before boarding a flight, travellers are legally required to obtain a Managed Isolation Allocation system voucher confirming their place in a managed isolation facility. Those who do not have the voucher will not be allowed to board the flight.
These categories can visit the country without first requesting to travel:
- New Zealand citizens or permanent residents
- residents with valid travel conditions, unless they obtained a resident visa outside New Zealand and have never used it to travel to the country
- partners or dependent children of a New Zealand citizen or resident, with a visa that is based on this relationship
- diplomats who hold a post in New Zealand
- Australian citizens or permanent residents ordinarily resident in New Zealand.
Dependent children must be younger than 20 if on a temporary visa, or younger than 25 if on a resident visa.
Acceptable evidence at airport check-in is needed, and may include but is not limited to Government-issued documentation — for example, New Zealand driver licence, or evidence of tax residency with Inland Revenue; documentation confirming current employment or approved study in New Zealand and documentation confirming ownership or rental of property in New Zealand — for example, utility bills, rates notices, lease agreement.
Only once this residency is verified against travel history, will Immigration New Zealand make a decision on whether the traveller is allowed to board your flight.
There is a List of critical purpose reasons to travel based on which other Australians who are not ordinarily resident in New Zealand may still be able to come to New Zealand. Travel must be for a reason that is critical and is on the critical purpose list.
The procedure for travel is given below:
- First submit an expression of interest using the online request form. For those who are traveling as an ‘other critical worker’, their employer must do this.
2. You will receive an application for
- a Critical Purpose Visitor Visa — if you do not already have a visa — or
- a variation of your visa conditions if you already have a work or student visa.
3. Furnish as much information as possible about the reason for travel to New Zealand, the full details of any people in New Zealand related to you, and the full details of your partner or children if they are included in your request to travel.
4. Also consider the availability of flights to New Zealand and travel restrictions for any country you may need to transit on the way.
5. Once you submit your request, you should receive a response within 2 working days. However, it may take longer depending on the volume and complexity of requests. Requests from employers and agents generally take 2 weeks.
6. Once approved, you will receive a link to the form for visa application or variation of conditions. A fee will usually be applicable.
The fee for a Critical Purpose Variation of Conditions is NZD $190.