New Zealand announces new 5-stage reopening of its borders

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Immigration New Zealand had a plan to start reopening its borders in January. Unfortunately, a new COVID variant started spreading around the world in December.

New Zealand quickly decided to push back the start of its border plan to the end of February.

Today we’re happy to report that New Zealand is not delaying the reopening of its borders any further! The first stage of New Zealand’s new 5-staged plan kicks off at the end of this month.

Stage 1 – New Zealanders and eligible travellers in Australia, 27 February 2022

During the first stage, fully vaccinated New Zealanders and other travellers eligible under current border settings can enter New Zealand from Australia and self-isolate upon arrival.

Unvaccinated travellers, and those who do not meet New Zealand’s vaccination criteria but are eligible to enter New Zealand will continue to enter managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ).

Stage 2 – New Zealanders and eligible travellers around the world, 13 March 2022

During the second stage of the border reopening, fully vaccinated New Zealanders and other travellers eligible under current border settings will be allowed to travel to New Zealand.

The border will also reopen to skilled workers earning at least 1.5 times the median wage. At the moment, these workers must demonstrate that their skills aren’t readily obtained in New Zealand. New Zealand will remove this requirement from the 13th of March.

Furthermore, New Zealand will reopen its Working Holiday Scheme.

Stage 3 – Temporary visa holders and international students, 12 April 2022

In this stage, New Zealand’s borders will reopen to current offshore temporary visa holders who are fully vaccinated and still able to meet their visa requirements.

The borders will also reopen to up to 5,000 fully vaccinated international students. Furthermore, New Zealand will implement additional and expanded class exceptions for critical workers earning below 1.5 times the median wage.

Stage 4 – Borders open to travellers from Australia and visa waiver countries, July 2022

New Zealand will reopen to fully vaccinated visitors from Australia and visa waiver countries from July, allowing family members of more onshore temporary migrants to visit New Zealand.

At this point, New Zealand will also phase out the border exception pathway for critical workers because of the opening of the new Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) category. The AEWV will be limited mainly to roles with pay above the median wage.

Stage 5 – Borders fully reopen, and most visa categories reopen, October 2022

Immigration New Zealand will resume the processing of most visa categories, including visitor and student visas, from October.

Self-isolation requirements

Self-isolation is only available for fully vaccinated travellers who are eligible to enter New Zealand.

Travellers will self-isolate for 10 days. If New Zealand’s self-isolation period changes, such as a drop to 7 days, the self-isolation period for travellers will also change.

Travellers will also get three rapid antigen tests at the airport – one for use on day 0/1, and one for use on day 5/6, with one extra for backup.

Anyone who tests positive will need to take a PCR test at a Community Testing Centre or GP.

Comment from Immigration New Zealand

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins and Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi released a joint statement detailing New Zealand’s border reopening.

“This is a very carefully developed plan that replaces MIQ for the vast majority of travellers while ensuring we maintain ongoing measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our community from recent arrivals,” Minister Hipkins said.

He added that the plan “…has built-in protections to help manage risks such as future variants. A phased approach to reopening reduces the risk of a surge of cases while prioritising the return of New Zealanders and the much-needed entry of skilled workers. Having MIQ for every traveller was a temporary setting for when none of us had protection. New Zealanders need to reconnect with one another. Families and friends need to reunite. Our businesses need skills to grow. Exporters need to travel to make new connections.”

Keep up with the reopening stages

Our team will post reminders about the stages of the border reopening on social media. If you’d like to stay up to date, follow us on Facebook or LinkedIn.

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