Latest INZ updates- Border entry, visa extensions, essential workers

Border entry during the lockdown

INZ received 2,406 expressions of interest (EOI) from people who believe they meet exceptions to the border closure (applied for the border entry). Of the 1,976 EOIs decided so far, just 369 met the criteria and have been invited to apply for a visa.

New Zealand government acknowledges that there may be extremely limited circumstances where it is appropriate for a person who is not a New Zealand citizen, permanent resident or person returning to New Zealand as a resident to travel to New Zealand.  Exceptions are only in place for extreme circumstances where people have a critical purpose for travel to New Zealand.
An individual needs to submit a request for an exception to the border restrictions.You can apply on the link below -

If their circumstances are considered exceptional and justify travel to New Zealand for a critical purpose, or because they are the family of and travelling with a New Zealander, they will be invited to apply for a visitor visa or to vary their existing visa to allow them to travel.
INZ will endeavour to respond to Expressions of Interests within three working days, depending on demand. Visa applications from individuals who have been invited to apply for an exception will be prioritised.

Automatic visa extension

Under the Epidemic Management Notice, visas have now been automatically extended for 85,000 temporary visa holders in New Zealand whose visas were to expire between 2 April and 9 July.
If you meet these criteria and have not received an email confirmation, you can check your visa status using the visa verification service. The link is –

Change of entry date on visas approved offshore to travel at a later date

No decisions have been made on this issue yet. This is a rapidly evolving situation and INZ needs to ensure that any decisions take into account the wider impacts of COVID-19, including any changes to the labour market. 

If a temporary visa holder is offshore and cannot return to New Zealand due to border closure

If the work visa is linked to a specific job and the job is still available, then the visa will remain valid and the individual will be able to travel to New Zealand when the travel restrictions have been lifted (unless they meet the exception criteria and can travel sooner).
However, if the job is no longer available, then the work visa will no longer be valid.

EOIs can be submitted but the selection has been deferred

Skilled Migrant Category and parent category selections from the pool will be deferred until further notice due to the difficulty in obtaining the required documents and evidence to submit an application and INZ’s limited visa processing capacity. 
INZ will continue to reassess when EOI selections for parent and SMC category can take place as the COVID-19 situation develops.

RSE workers

RSE workers may be required to move to where labour is needed to support continued food production. Any movement of RSE workers will be carefully managed by their employer. Their employer is fully responsible for the arrangement and safety of their workers while in transit.

If an applicant cannot obtain the required documents to apply for a visa

All applications are still required to meet normal immigration requirements, which for some will include providing police or medical certificate. If individuals are unable to provide this documentation at the time they make their application they should include details of this and the reasons why the documentation is not available. This explanation will be considered when the application is assessed. 

Visa flexibility in essential services sectors

A number of changes have already been made ensure that the employers have the critical workers need ed at this time. To facilitate global health professionals for the COVID-19 response, visa applications will be prioritised for key roles necessary for the health response in New Zealand.
Lower skilled temporary healthcare workers that are currently in New Zealand will be able to work in New Zealand for an additional 12 months before they are subject to the stand-down period. This will allow those health workers with lower-skilled Essential Skills visas who have worked in New Zealand for three years an additional 12 months before they are subject to a stand-down period where they must leave New Zealand for 12 months. This will provide additional certainty for those impacted, some of whom will be affected by the first stand-down period from 28 August 2020, and it will also help maintain existing workforces at this critical time. This extension will also apply to partners and dependents of affected workers.
International Students currently employed in healthcare roles (including aged residential care) will now be able to work full-time until 3 July 2020 in order to support the public health response to COVID-19 (subject to students still meeting the study requirements of their student visa). 
Changes have been made to immigration instructions to relax visa restrictions for two groups of current supermarket employees for a period of 30 days to help manage labour supply issues. Between now and 25 April 2020 inclusive work visa holders working in supermarkets can work in some roles other than those specified on their visa. During the same period student visa holders who work in supermarkets can work more than the current maximum of 20 hours per week. 
These visa measures apply to supermarkets operated by Woolworths New Zealand – owners of Countdown, Super Value and Fresh Choice supermarkets – and Foodstuffs – owners of New World, Pak n Save, Four Square, On the Spot and Raeward Fresh.
INZ and other Government agencies involved in the COVID-19 response are engaging regularly with employers and other interest groups and listening to their concerns. Officials are urgently looking at further options to provide flexibility to visa conditions for temporary work visa holders and providing advice to the Government. The Government is actively considering a range of options and will make decisions as soon as possible. However, the priority at the moment is on ensuring the continuation of essential services.