COVID-19: New Zealand at alert level 1 – But how does it affect you?

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New Zealand moved to alert level 1 at midnight on 8 June. This means life returned to just about normal for New Zealanders. There are no restrictions on going to work, school, socializing, sports and domestic travel.

But what does it mean to you as a visa holder, visa applicant or person who was hopeful to immigrate to New Zealand in the future? Especially considering that New Zealand still have border restrictions in place for the foreseeable future.

Let’s look at all the scenarios currently in play:

You’re living in New Zealand

When New Zealand’s lockdown started the partners and dependants of New Zealand citizens and residents could only travel to New Zealand with the New Zealander. Unfortunately, this meant that some families were split up. Thankfully, New Zealand has since decided that partners and dependants can travel to New Zealand on their own.

New Zealand has also decided to extend all work, visa, student, visitor or limited or interim visas with an expiry date of 2 April to 9 July 2002 until 25 September 2020. That’s provided you were in New Zealand on 2 April. Immigration New Zealand is emailing confirmation of these extensions to all eligible visa holders.

You’re living in New Zealand and you have a visa application in the system

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) is processing onshore applications and has increased its visa processing capacity. This was possible due to INZ staff being able to return to their offices.

Unfortunately, all of INZ’s offshore offices remain closed.

Residence applications

INZ resumed the processing of residence applications on 14 May 2020 and is prioritizing applications from applicants who are in the country and from critical workers or applicants with a high income or occupational registration.

Temporary visa applications

INZ is prioritizing temporary visa applications from applicants who are critical workers to support the Government’s response to COVID-19. Furthermore, INZ is giving precedence to temporary visa applicants who are in New Zealand.

INZ has said that further changes to the prioritization criteria may be required as international travel restrictions change and more information becomes available about the effects of COVID-19 on the domestic labour market.

It is important to also note that you could expect an increase in processing times as INZ has advised that there will be an increase in the time and effort it takes to process some visa applications.

Skilled Migrant and Parent category applications

INZ has postponed selections for Expressions of Interest in the Skilled Migrant Category and Parent category until further notice. While this is sure to be disappointing if you’re a visa applicant in either of these categories, please take comfort in the fact that it is only a temporary measure.

You want to immigrate to New Zealand

The current situation is unfortunately conspiring against anyone who’s yet to officially start their immigration to New Zealand.

With that being said, you don’t have to give up on your dream of living in New Zealand!

We chatted to Sarah Hewitt, our licensed advisor for New Zealand, and she had the following to say:

“In my opinion, once borders open up, New Zealand will be in dire need of skilled migrants that can fulfill the occupations that we have constantly dealt with over the past few years. For instance; mechanics. engineers, teachers and electricians. For applicants in those core occupations that have always been in shortage, I would recommend preparing documents in readiness for your future immigration plans and have an assessment performed.”

It is our recommendation that you do work with a licensed advisor at this stage. The temporary regulations, exceptions and exemptions announced in response to COVID-19 are changing regularly. It would be near impossible to stay on top of it all on your own.

Here’s one more thing you can while you wait for New Zealand to open…

Learn all you can about immigrating to and living in New Zealand

Make the most of the time you have right now be educating yourself on immigration to New Zealand and the country itself. Below are a couple of our blog posts that you use to kick off your reading:

Stay in touch to know about future developments

The exceptions and temporary regulations changes New Zealand have made so far is sure not to be the last. As the coronavirus becomes less of threat, the borders are sure to open even more. This in turn could also ensure that things with visa applications slowly return to normal.

To know of changes as they happen, you can sign up to our newsletter or follow us on Facebook or LinkedIn. In the meantime, please feel free to contact us if you need help with a visa application.

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