Immigration in NZ During Covid 19

COVID-19 & IMMIGRATION

Since the COVID-19 outbreak in New Zealand, there have been a number of developments New Zealand Immigration Law and Policy. These changes may have caused you some concern or uncertainty in terms of your situation as an applicant for, or holder of, a New Zealand Visa.

It is normal to have questions during times of sudden change. We have compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to keep you updated on key information and developments. We will aim to update the answers to these questions as more information becomes available.

I am currently outside of New Zealand. Will I be permitted entry?

Since 11:59pm on Thursday the 19th of March 2020, Immigration New Zealand has placed severe restrictions on who may enter New Zealand. You will be permitted to enter New Zealand if you are:

  1. A New Zealand citizen;
  2. A New Zealand permanent resident;
  3. A New Zealand resident, as long as you are not coming to New Zealand for the first time
  4. A Partner, dependent child or legal guardian of (1), (2), or (3).

If you fit under criteria 4, Immigration New Zealand recommends you still make a request in advance. ‘Request for Travel to New Zealand form’ (Link 1) This will give you peace of mind before you travel to New Zealand and help you avoid the risk of being denied entry.

Exceptions

There are some exceptions to the rules above:

  1. Australian citizens and permanent residents who normally live in New Zealand;
  2. People with one of the following critical purposes in New Zealand:
    1. Essential health workers;
    2. Other essential workers who are specifically agreed to by the New Zealand government;
    3. Samoan and Tongan citizens making essential travel;
    4. New Zealand based partners or dependent children (aged 19 years or younger) of a work or student visa holder who is in New Zealand;
    5. Critical humanitarian travel.

It is important to note that if you want to apply under (d), the work or student visa holder will need to be in New Zealand at the time you make the application. Also, you must usually live in New Zealand, and you will need to provide proof of this to Immigration New Zealand.

Immigration New Zealand has now provided further information about these categories on their website.

Please note that these are exceptions and do not guarantee entry to New Zealand. Immigration New Zealand will assess each application on a case-by-case basis. If you wish to enter New Zealand under the exceptional criteria will need to use ‘Request for Travel to New Zealand form’.

If you do not meet the standard or exceptional circumstances listed above, you are not permitted to enter New Zealand. We will update this page if Immigration New Zealand make any changes to their policy, however at this stage the blanket closure seems likely to continue long-term.

My visa expires soon and it is making me anxious. Do I need to apply for an extension or re-apply for a new visa?

Immigration New Zealand has extended work, student, visitor, limited or interim visas to 25 September 2020 for current visa holders who meet the following conditions:

  1. Their visa expires between 2 April 2020 – 9 July 2020 (dates are inclusive); and
  2. They were in New Zealand on 2 April 2020. with an expiry date between 2 April 2020 – 9 July 2020 who were in New Zealand on 2 April 2020.

Clients who meet these conditions should have received a confirmation email from Immigration New Zealand confirming these extensions. If you are unsure whether your visa has been extended, Immigration New Zealand has provided a Visa Verification Service which allows you to check the status of your visa.

My visa application is currently being processed. Will there be a delay?

Given the current situation, Immigration New Zealand is prioritising certain visa applications. Their top priority at present is the assessment of visa applications relating to essential services, particularly in the health sector. However, they are processing applications from a limited range of other categories. These include:

  1. Temporary visas for victims of domestic violence.
  2. Partnership category temporary visa (including reassessments)
  3. Full fee-paying student visas
  4. Post Study work visas

If your application does not relate to essential services, or is not included in the list above, Immigration New Zealand is likely not assessing your application at this stage.

Furthermore, Immigration New Zealand have postponed the following:

  1. Selections for Expressions of Interest (EOI) in the Skilled Migrant Category
  2. Ballot registrations for the Samoan Quota (SQ) and Pacific Access Category (PAC)
  3. 19 capped working holiday schemes due to open in the next six months – NB: Criterion was listed on 26 April

Though these developments may be frustrating, you can rest assured that Immigration New Zealand will assess your application at some point in the future. It is important that you keep in mind that a delay does not necessarily mean there are problems with your application.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak in New Zealand, there have been a number of developments New Zealand Immigration Law and Policy. These changes may have caused you some concern or uncertainty in terms of your situation as an applicant for, or holder of, a New Zealand Visa.

It is normal to have questions during times of sudden change. We have compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to keep you updated on key information and developments. We will aim to update the answers to these questions as more information becomes available.

I am currently outside of New Zealand. Will I be permitted entry?

Since 11:59pm on Thursday the 19th of March 2020, Immigration New Zealand has placed severe restrictions on who may enter New Zealand. You will be permitted to enter New Zealand if you are:

  1. A New Zealand citizen;
  2. A New Zealand permanent resident;
  3. A New Zealand resident, as long as you are not coming to New Zealand for the first time
  4. A Partner, dependent child or legal guardian of (1), (2), or (3).

If you fit under criteria 4, Immigration New Zealand recommends you still make a request in advance. ‘Request for Travel to New Zealand form’ (Link 1) This will give you peace of mind before you travel to New Zealand and help you avoid the risk of being denied entry.

Exceptions

There are some exceptions to the rules above:

  1. Australian citizens and permanent residents who normally live in New Zealand;
  2. People with one of the following critical purposes in New Zealand:
    1. Essential health workers;
    2. Other essential workers who are specifically agreed to by the New Zealand government;
    3. Samoan and Tongan citizens making essential travel;
    4. New Zealand based partners or dependent children (aged 19 years or younger) of a work or student visa holder who is in New Zealand;
    5. Critical humanitarian travel.

It is important to note that if you want to apply under (d), the work or student visa holder will need to be in New Zealand at the time you make the application. Also, you must usually live in New Zealand, and you will need to provide proof of this to Immigration New Zealand.

Immigration New Zealand has now provided further information about these categories on their website.

Please note that these are exceptions and do not guarantee entry to New Zealand. Immigration New Zealand will assess each application on a case-by-case basis. If you wish to enter New Zealand under the exceptional criteria will need to use ‘Request for Travel to New Zealand form’.

If you do not meet the standard or exceptional circumstances listed above, you are not permitted to enter New Zealand. We will update this page if Immigration New Zealand make any changes to their policy, however at this stage the blanket closure seems likely to continue long-term.

My visa expires soon and it is making me anxious. Do I need to apply for an extension or re-apply for a new visa?

Immigration New Zealand has extended work, student, visitor, limited or interim visas to 25 September 2020 for current visa holders who meet the following conditions:

  1. Their visa expires between 2 April 2020 – 9 July 2020 (dates are inclusive); and
  2. They were in New Zealand on 2 April 2020. with an expiry date between 2 April 2020 – 9 July 2020 who were in New Zealand on 2 April 2020.

Clients who meet these conditions should have received a confirmation email from Immigration New Zealand confirming these extensions. If you are unsure whether your visa has been extended, Immigration New Zealand has provided a Visa Verification Service which allows you to check the status of your visa.

My visa application is currently being processed. Will there be a delay?

Given the current situation, Immigration New Zealand is prioritising certain visa applications. Their top priority at present is the assessment of visa applications relating to essential services, particularly in the health sector. However, they are processing applications from a limited range of other categories. These include:

  1. Temporary visas for victims of domestic violence.
  2. Partnership category temporary visa (including reassessments)
  3. Full fee-paying student visas
  4. Post Study work visas

If your application does not relate to essential services, or is not included in the list above, Immigration New Zealand is likely not assessing your application at this stage.

Furthermore, Immigration New Zealand have postponed the following:

  1. Selections for Expressions of Interest (EOI) in the Skilled Migrant Category
  2. Ballot registrations for the Samoan Quota (SQ) and Pacific Access Category (PAC)
  3. 19 capped working holiday schemes due to open in the next six months – NB: Criterion was listed on 26 April

Though these developments may be frustrating, you can rest assured that Immigration New Zealand will assess your application at some point in the future. It is important that you keep in mind that a delay does not necessarily mean there are problems with your application.


COVID-19 AND LABOUR MARKET TESTS

COVID-19 has affected the New Zealand economy drastically. Media coverage has drawn particular attention to the problem of unemployment. New Zealand’s unemployment rate has grown since COVID-19 hit, and projections from Treasury have indicated that the issue will likely get worse before it gets better. One of the New Zealand Government’s top priorities is to ensure New Zealand citizens and residents re-enter the labour market as quickly as possible.

Accordingly, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) have decided to assess employers’ Labour Market Tests (LMTs) using a standard much stricter than the one used before the COVID-19 crisis. Any employer who wishes to employ a migrant under the Essential Skills Work Visa (ESWV) category must carry out an LMT before doing so. The purpose of an LMT is to ascertain whether there are any New Zealand citizens or residents suitable for the applicant’s role. The change will therefore affect applicants for the ESWV and their employers.

We briefly summarise the most important aspects of the changes below. Please note that these changes apply to all current and future ESWV applications, even those submitted before COVID-19 but still under assessment.

Timeframes: Employers will need to complete their LMTs as close as possible to the date the application is submitted. INZ are likely to correspond with employers after applications are submitted, so the LMT is more like an ongoing process than a single task which employers can ‘cross off the list’. INZ intend to take this approach because the number of New Zealanders available to apply for the job is likely to increase as time goes on, at least in the foreseeable future.

ANZSCO Requirements: Any applications where the employee’s role is low-skilled ( i.e. at ANZSCO Level 5) are almost certain to be declined. INZ will make exceptions for roles where no New Zealanders are readily able to be trained, but given New Zealand’s expanding labour pool, such exceptions are likely to be few and far between.

Sustainable, Ongoing Employment: As per usual, employers will need to prove to INZ that the role they offer to the client is financially sustainable and will continue long-term. INZ will scrutinise the viability of applicants’ roles in a stringent manner and ask the employer for supporting documents if necessary.

In summary, both employers and employees will face a higher ‘burden of proof’ when it comes to the LMT. Employers in particular should take due care to test the market comprehensively, especially after the prospective employee has applied for their ESWV.

If you have specific questions about your obligations as an employer, or have concerns about a prospective or current ESWV application, we are here to help. Our experienced immigration team can offer sound advice to help you prepare for any challenges that may arise in the LMT process. Feel free to call us on 03 3892121 or click here

NB: Please note that the above is a general overview of the topic and is not advice. Every situation is different and would require advice tailored to the individual.