New-Zealand – Covid-19 – Immigration update

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Update: October 22th, 2020

Expression of Interest selection process deferred six months

What is the change?

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) recently announced that for the Skilled Migrant Category and Parent Resident Category it will continue to postpone the Expression of Interest (EOI) selection process for another six months.

Key Points:

  • Continuing this postponement makes it possible for INZ to maintain its focus on processing applications from applicants in New Zealand and applicants who are allowed to enter the country while border restrictions are active.
  • The postponement will be reviewed in 2021.

Those who wish to submit an Expression of Interest for the Skilled Migrant Category and Parent Resident Category will have to wait until INZ resumes its EOI selection process.

Update: October 19th, 2020

Changes to Skills Match Report

What is the change?

In response to the impact of COVID-19 on the labour market, the Ministry of Social Development has announced several changes to the Skills Match Report scheme (applicable to roles paying below the national median wage of NZ$25.50 per hour).

Effective from 7 October 2020, if the role employers filling is:

  • Oversupplied: No Skills Match Report will be issued; if employers want to hire a migrant, they can still submit a work visa application to Immigration New Zealand to be considered.
  • Undersupplied in the region: Employers will not need to get a Skills Match Report to support the work visa application.
  • If the role is not oversupplied or undersupplied in the region, employers will need a Skills Match Report to hire a migrant. The process to get a Skills Match Report will not change.

More details on this process can be found here.

Update: October 13th, 2020

Current Alert Level

What is the change?

  • New Zealand is at Alert Level 1. Auckland joined the rest of New Zealand at Alert Level 1 at 11.59 p.m. on 7 October 2020. Under Alert Level 1, face coverings are no longer compulsory, but are encouraged on public transport and when physical distance cannot be maintained. To help with contact tracing if required, you are also encouraged to continue tracking where you have been and who you have seen.
    Controls at the borders remain for those entering New Zealand. This includes health screening and testing for all arrivals, and mandatory 14-day managed isolation or quarantine. More information on what Alert Level 1 entails can be found here.

Update: October 16th, 2020

Changes to Skills Match Report process announced

What is the change?

New Zealand’s government has made changes to the Skills Match Report process to help employers identify which New Zealanders are available to work.

Key Points:

  • In response to the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the labor market, the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) generated lists of occupations and regions with an oversupply or undersupply of New Zealanders who are receiving Job Seeker Support. The lists will be used beginning Oct. 7.
  • Employers do not need to obtain a Skills Match report for jobs paying less than the national median wage, which is $25.50 per hour, if there is an undersupply of New Zealand job seekers for those positions or the regions where they are located. Within the same context of an undersupply of New Zealand job seekers for certain occupations or regions, employers that can demonstrate they made a sincere effort to publicly advertise a new job to make it known to New Zealanders who are looking for work are allowed to support a migrant work visa application.
  • Employers can work directly with the Ministry of Social Development for the occupations and regions where there is an oversupply of New Zealand job seekers on Job Seeker support who are available for employment.
  • For occupations or regions that are not on the oversupply or undersupply lists, the process remains unchanged, meaning a Skills Match Report is required for an employer to hire a migrant for a job that pays less than the national median wage.

The oversupply and undersupply lists are a temporary measure which will be reviewed in the beginning of 2021, or sooner, depending on conditions within the labor market. Immigration New Zealand will confirm whether or not an occupation is on the undersupply or oversupply list by using the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO version 1.2). The process to obtain a Skills Match Report has not changed.

The government’s temporary use of oversupply and undersupply lists is intended to help New Zealanders who are out of work obtain new jobs

Update: October 1st, 2020

Temporary work visa changes made

What is the change?

New Zealand has made changes to several temporary work visas, so visa holders can maintain their pathways to residence.

Key Points:

  • Effective Sept. 28, changes were made for the holders of the following types of visas:
    • Talent – Accredited Employers
    • Talent – Arts, Culture and Sport
    • Long Term Skills Shortage List Work to Residence
    • South Island Contribution Work to Residence.
  • Immigration New Zealand (INZ) requires that all Work to Residence (WTR) visa holders be 55 years old or younger. However, because of longer-than-normal processing times for residence visa applications some WTR holders are passing the age limit while their applications are being processed. Such WTR visa holders who have submitted a residence application which is pending assessment by INZ are now eligible to apply for a further WTR visa.
  • Applicants who have received a job offer from an accredited employer for a job that pays more than the minimum salary threshold are eligible to apply for a Talent – Accredited Employer category visa. In cases where employers have not renewed their accreditation, New Zealand has begun to allow current WTR visa holders in the Accredited Employer category who have resident visa applications being processed to be eligible to apply for a subsequent WTR visa. These visa holders must be working for the same employer and at the same base salary level. The second WTR visa can only be held for a maximum of two years while a residence visa application is being processed.
  • South Island Contribution visa holders who secured new employment because of COVID-19 disruptions to certain New Zealand industries or regions are now allowed to apply for a variation of conditions to change either the industry they work in or employment location within the South Island. However, they are not allowed to apply to change both. Previously, South Island Contribution visa holders were required to work in industries and regions listed on their visas, however given that COVID-19 has impacted some specific industries and regions more than others, INZ has decided to allow such visa holders to vary the conditions of their visas to allow further flexibility amidst the pandemic.

Currently, there are longer-than-normal processing times for residence visa applications, which triggers the need for temporary entry class visa holders to apply for a subsequent temporary entry class visa in order to remain lawfully in New Zealand.

The above-mentioned changes will allow some temporary entry class visa holders with more flexibility to apply for a subsequent temporary entry class visa and continue to live and work in New Zealand while waiting for their residence application to be decided by INZ.

Update: May 12th, 2020

Moving to Alert Level 2

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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Photo de Fatia Bouteiller
Fatia Bouteiller

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