Last year, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) committed itself to processing border exception requests within two working days, except for other critical worker requests which INZ is processing within two weeks.
Due to ongoing border restrictions, the two-day time frame has been placing enormous pressure on INZ staff. Especially since INZ has been getting thousands of requests each month!
It seems likely that border restrictions are going to be in place for some time and the border exception environment is becoming more complex as new exception criteria are introduced.
As a result…
INZ has decided to change the processing time frame for border exception requests to five working days.
The average processing times largely depend on the type of request at the moment. For instance:
- ‘Family of a New Zealand Citizen or Resident’: Two days
- ‘Family of a Temporary Visa Holder’: Two days
- ‘Humanitarian’ category: Two days
‘Ordinarily resident’ exception requests, which are more complex, take longer.
You can find a list of the critical purpose reasons under which you can apply for a border exception on Immigration New Zealand’s website – CRITICAL PURPOSE REASONS TO TRAVEL.
The border restrictions in response to COVID-19 have turned many people’s lives upside-down.
One of the affected groups have been international students who were in their home countries when the borders closed. Unfortunately, these students have been unable to resume their studies thus far.
Thankfully, INZ has now announced that up to 1,000 priority returning degree and post-graduate international students will be able to return to New Zealand from April 2021.
The requirements of this border exception
- You must have already completed some of your study in New Zealand.
- If you enter New Zealand under this exception, you have to apply for and be granted a new study visa in line with immigration requirements. You can include your partner and dependent children, in line with visa requirements.
- If your application is successful, you’ll have to complete standard managed isolation and quarantine:
- You must book your space through the allocation system
- You’re liable for the standard charges of the isolation and quarantine
- Due to the employment pressures as a result of COVID-19 and increased living costs, you’ll have to be able to prove that you have NZ$20,000 per annum to support yourself for the duration of your visa.
Get expert assistance with your study visa application
Get in touch with our team of licensed advisors if you’re one of the 1,000 returning students and you’d like assistance with your visa application.
Our licensed advisors can ensure that you still meet the requirements to apply for a study visa. We’ll also guide you through the preparation of your visa application and submit your application too.
Immigration New Zealand has made a couple of announcements that affect Employer-assisted Visas, Essential Skills Visas and Working Holiday Visas. Get all the details below.
1. Employer-assisted visas expiring from 1 January 2021 to 30 June 2021 will automatically receive a 6-month extension
Employer-assisted visa holders whose visas are going to expire between 1 January and 30 June are sure to welcome the news of extensions for a further 6 months. This extension applies to the following visas:
- Essential Skills Visa
- Work to Residence Visa
- Special and Skilled work visas for China, Indonesia, South Korea, Philippines and Vietnam
- Special category work visas for Japanese interpreters and Thai chefs
- Employer-specific work visas granted under section 61 of the Immigration Act 2009
- Fishing Crew Visa
- Religious Worker Visa
- Silver Fern Practical Experience Visa
INZ is also going to extend the visas held by the partners and dependent children of eligible visa holders. All visa holders will get confirmation of the extension from Immigration New Zealand by March 2021.
2. Lower-pad Essential Skills Visa stand-down delayed for 12 months
The introduction of the stand-down period that was announced in July 2020 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.
3. Working Holiday Visas extended by 6 months
Working Holiday Visas that expire from 21 December 2020 to 30 June 2021 will get a 6-month extension.
INZ will apply varied conditions to allow Working Holiday visa holders to continue in any employment that is not permanent in any sector until the expiry date of their visas. Furthermore, a time limit on total work for one employer will no longer apply.
Working Holiday Visa holders who are eligible for this extension will no longer be transferred to the Supplementary Seasonal Employment (SSE) work visa when their visa expires.
Migrant workers who are already on an SSE Visa can continue to work in the horticulture and viticulture sectors, or apply for an Essential Skills Visa if they find alternative qualifying work.
INZ is making this allowance because New Zealand is facing labour shortages across many industries at the moment.
4. 2019 Median wage in effect until July 2021
Immigration New Zealand will continue to use the 2019 median wage of NZ$25,50 an hour to determine conditions until at least July 2021, at which point the median wage will raise to NZ$27 an hour.
Immigration New Zealand has advised that 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.