Immigration Updates – New Visa Category, Further Automatic Visa Extensions and Policy Tweaks
Immigration / 22 September 2020
Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has recently announced a number of welcome changes to assist temporary visa holders in New Zealand. These changes include the creation of a short-term visitor visa category for migrants arranging repatriation. INZ is also granting automatic visa extensions to additional groups of temporary visa holders.
COVID-19 Visitor Visa
A new category of visitor visa has been introduced, to assist migrants who require further time in New Zealand to arrange repatriation
INZ is extending visitor visas due to expire between 4 September 2020 and the end of October 2020. INZ intends to contact all visitor visa holders who are eligible for this extension by mid-September.
Partners and dependent children of employer-assisted work visa holders
INZ will be aligning visa expiry dates for partners and dependent children of employer-assisted work visa holders granted a six months automatic visa extension in July 2020. Partners and dependent children (or their parents) should have already received an email from INZ confirming the extension of their visas.
Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) visa holders
INZ has also automatically extended RSE visas for a further six months, allowing RSE workers to continue work in New Zealand. INZ has indicated that there are approximately 8,000 RSE visa holders currently in New Zealand.
INZ to appears to be trying to retain healthcare workers in New Zealand during the COVID-19 pandemic, and has announced that the stand-down period for some temporary visa holders who work in the healthcare industry has been deferred for an additional year.
Finally, in a recent string of policy adjustments, INZ has once again relaxed the visa restrictions for work visa holders and student visa holders who currently work in particular Woolworths and Foodstuffs supermarkets, under COVID-19 Alert Level 3 or 4.
What does this mean for employers?
The automatic extensions will remove the burden of application fees expenses, as well as the added stress and time spent preparing and submitting further visa applications. It will also free up the workflow of INZ Case Officers to process other visa applications. We hope this will relieve INZ’s processing timeframes.
We are happy to provide advice and assist with preparing and submitting visa applications.
Please also contact us if you believe that you should be granted an automatic visa extension but have not received an email from INZ, or if you have any questions about these changes and how they may affect you or your employees.
We remind you that while this article provides commentary on employment law and health and safety topics, it should not be used as a substitute for legal or professional advice for specific situations. Please seek legal advice from your lawyer for any questions specific to your workplace.