New Zealand Immigration News: February 2021

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New Zealand announced that it’ll close its South African offices by March. Immigration New Zealand also extended visitor visas by two months for some visa holders.

Extensions of New Zealand visitor visas

On 19 February, Immigration New Zealand extended the visitor visas of visa holders who are in the country and whose visas expire between 19 February and 31 March 2021 by two months from the date of expiry.

This extension by INZ is valid even though the new expiry dates are not yet visible on the visas. The new expiry dates will be available on the Visa Verification Service after 5 March.

Visa holders would have to apply for new visas to extend their stay past the new expiry date.

Please note: This visitor visa extension does not apply to COVID-19 short-term visitor visas.

Maximum stay rule for some visitor visas temporarily waived

People in New Zealand who apply for visitor visas before the end of June 2021 will get a temporary waiver of the maximum stay rule – visitor visa holders can only be in New Zealand for nine months out of an 18 month period. Those who apply will be eligible for a visitor visa for up to six months.

New Zealand’s immigration offices in Pretoria, Mumbai, and Manila to close by March 2021

Immigration New Zealand announced that it will close its offices in Pretoria, Mumbai, and Manila by March.

This decision comes as border restrictions remain in place almost 12 months after first being put in place. The restrictions have meant that incoming visa volumes from people who are offshore have decreased significantly.

Visa application processes – including appointments – will move online as part of the New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority programme.

Deputy Head of INZ Catriona Robinson says that INZ has a responsibility to adapt to the changing environment and ensure we are contributing to New Zealand’s COVID-19 economic recovery.

“As a result, INZ has made the difficult decision to close our offices in Mumbai, Manila, and Pretoria by March 2021 and bring more visa processing onshore,” Catriona Robinson says.

“This is not a decision that we have made lightly. Our staff in these offices have made a significant contribution to INZ and New Zealand. However, these offices have been closed since March 2020, and with no certainty about when visa volumes may return to normal, INZ has had to make some tough decisions.“

Robinson believes that INZ is well-placed to increase its onshore processing capacity.

“The roll-out of new technology functions aims to improve efficiency and resilience throughout INZ, which will help to us to better manage peaks and troughs in visa volumes while giving users of the immigration system a better customer experience,” Robinson says.

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