New-Zealand – Covid-19 – Immigration update

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Update: May 12th, 2020

What is the change?

New Zealand will move from Alert Level 3 to Alert Level 2 at 11.59 p.m. on 13 May 2020, Wednesday. At Alert Level 2, businesses can operate if they are able to do so safely. Tertiary education facilities, schools and early learning centres will also be open, and social gatherings can have up to 10 people.

Domestic travel will be allowed under Alert Level 2. However, there will be no changes to international air travel restrictions from Alert Level 3, and New Zealand’s borders will remain closed to foreign travellers. If a traveller’s final destination is not Australia, they are also no longer allowed to transit through New Zealand.

New Zealand citizens and residents may return, but will continue to be placed in managed isolation for 14 days, or quarantine if they are showing symptoms. Foreign nationals may use international air services to travel home.

For more details on the different sets of measures to be taken at each alert level, please click here. More information on all aspects of domestic and international travel can also be found here.

Update: April 30th, 2020

COVID-19: Alert Level 3

What is the change?

New Zealand moved to Alert Level 3 at 11.59 p.m. on Monday, 27 April 2020. It will stay in Alert Level 3 for two weeks, before Cabinet makes further decisions on 11 May 2020.

Under Alert Level 3, people must continue to stay in their household bubbles whenever they are not at work, school, buying the groceries, or exercising, but can expand this to reconnect with close family/whānau, bring in caregivers, or support isolated people.

In addition, those who were in the wrong place when the restrictions came into place, and need to get home, can now move throughout New Zealand to do so. They can move once, and only in one direction. If questioned, they should be able to clearly explain the purpose of the travel and how it complies with the Alert Level 3 restrictions. They should also provide documentation, such as proof of the residential or business address they will be travelling to, or a letter from their employer. More information on travelling during Alert Level 3 can be found here , and detailed transportation information can be found here.

Update: April 10th, 2020

COVID-19: Alert Level 4

What is the change?

The New Zealand Government announced on Monday, 7 April that New Zealand will enter into transit arrangements with a range of countries to make it easier for each other’s citizens to get home.

Current transit agreements:

  • Australian citizens, residents and immediate family (partner or spouse, legal guardian and dependent children under the age of 24) are able to transit New Zealand to Australia. Transiting travellers must remain airside and cannot enter New Zealand.
  • New Zealand citizens, residents and immediate family (partner, legal guardian and dependent children) who normally live in Australia are able to transit New Zealand to return to Australia. If you want to transit, you need to remain airside and not enter New Zealand. If you enter New Zealand, you will be required to self-isolate.
  • New Zealand citizens, permanent residents who normally live in New Zealand and immediate family (partner, legal guardian and dependent children) are able to transit Australia to New Zealand. Transiting travellers must remain airside and cannot enter Australia.

Foreign nationals in New Zealand can now travel domestically in order to reach Christchurch or Auckland airport to take an international flight. They can drive, take Ubers, taxis or public transport, or take domestic flights from Auckland, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch or Dunedin airports, in order to connect with a commercial or chartered international flight. They must meet strict health criteria before they travel. The criteria and other information is available here.

For the complete list of advisories including travel to New Zealand, visa extensions, travel to and from the Pacific Islands, and visa changes to support essential services during COVID-19, please refer to the link below.

Update: March 26th, 2020

Government implements extension measures for temporary visa holders, updates transit guidelines

What is the change?

The government has implemented visa extension measures for temporary visa holders who cannot leave the country owing to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Additionally, it has updated its transit guidelines.

Key Points

  • Temporary visa holders whose visa will expire on or before April 1 must apply online for a new visa if they are unable to leave New Zealand because of travel restrictions. An interim visa will be issued for these applicants.
  • Temporary visa holders whose visa will expire between April 2 and July 9 will receive an automatic visa extension until Sept. 25.
  • Visa holders who do not comply with instructions from health officers can be detained and deported.
  • Immigration New Zealand (INZ) overseas offices are closed until further notice. INZ is currently processing only urgent visa requests related to COVID-19, e.g., for health workers.
  • Anyone transiting through New Zealand to anywhere save Australia must depart by 2:00 a.m. March 26. Australian citizens, residents and their immediate family, and New Zealand citizens, residents and their immediate family, who normally live in Australia may transit New Zealand but must not enter the country. Returning New Zealand citizens, residents and their immediate family may transit Australia but must not enter that country.

New Zealand closed its borders on March 19, and the visa extension measures and transit restrictions represent the government’s latest effort to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on immigration processes.

The visa extension policy is good news for employers and their foreign national employees, as it should lessen compliance concerns amid travel restrictions and quarantine measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The closure of the INZ offices overseas as well as INZ operating with skeleton staff in NZ will most likely result in visa processing times being increased. Deloitte will alert clients to additional changes or restrictions as information becomes available.

Update: March 20th, 2020

Border closed to most foreign nationals

What is the change?

As of 11:59 p.m., March 19, New Zealand has closed its borders to foreign nationals to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Key Points:

  • Most foreign nationals can no longer enter New Zealand.
  • The entry ban does not apply to New Zealand citizens, permanent residents, residents with valid travel conditions and their immediate family members (partner or spouse, legal guardian, children under 24). Immediate family must have a valid visa or NZeTA and travel with the New Zealand citizen or resident family member on the same flight to New Zealand.
  • Australian citizens and permanent residents who normally reside in New Zealand are also exempt from the entry ban.
  • Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family members (partner or spouse, legal guardian, children under 24) may transit through New Zealand to Australia.
  • All travelers returning to New Zealand must self-isolate for 14 days.

Affected travelers must have boarded their flight by 11:59 p.m., March 19. Immigration New Zealand may make exceptions for humanitarian reasons, health and other essential workers, Samoan and Tongan citizens traveling for essential reasons, and visa holders who normally reside in New Zealand and are the partner or dependent of a temporary work or student visa holder.

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) is working with the Ministry of Health and other government agencies to manage the COVID-19 outbreak. These restrictions will be reviewed in 14 days.

Employers should anticipate that the entry ban will significantly disrupt business activity and employee mobility. The response to the COVID-19 pandemic continues to develop, and Deloitte will provide additional updates as information becomes available.

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