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1 April 2020

Immigration – Lockdown Update

As we work through the continually changing logistics of the lockdown, we would like to provide a little clarity for those currently in New Zealand on visas. 


All Immigration New Zealand (INZ) visa processing branches are closed. This will significantly reduce INZ’s ability to operate and it will only be able to process a limited number of applications during the lockdown period. 


If you are in New Zealand on a visa expiring between 1 April and 9 July, your visa will be automatically extended until 25 September 2020. However, in certain circumstances, lodging an application may still be advisable if key documents are going to lapse in that time or if the visa is to facilitate a change in your circumstances. INZ has indicated it may have further guidance on this shortly and we will provide an update when this is released.


Pending guidance from INZ for paper-based applications or residence-class applications, we recommend proceeding to submit those, to again avoid certain documents, or the timeframe in which to submit such applications, expiring. We still can, and do, receive documents sent from clients by courier and post.  Likewise, it is still possible to submit applications to INZ by courier or DX mail, so that documents are with them to process as soon as INZ branches re-open. 


INZ has also made several amendments to policy since lockdown and we expect this is an area that will continue to evolve during the course of the lockdown. 


Changes to Supermarket Employees’ Visa Conditions


INZ has moved to give supermarkets some worker relief by relaxing certain visa restrictions. Specifically, visa holders who, as at 23 March 2020, have been working for a supermarket affiliated with Woolworths or Foodstuffs, will be allowed to work more than 20 hours a week (if on a student visa ordinarily limited to 20 hours per week during term time) and work across different roles (if on a work visa ordinarily constrained to one specific role). 


This is a welcome amendment to the rules and will be in place for the period 25 March until 25 April to help ease the pressures on those supermarkets during the lockdown period. 


Exceptions to Current Restrictions where Travelling for a Critical Purpose


INZ has issued further policy allowing for exceptions to current restrictions on entering NZ, where there is a critical purpose for such travel. 


This has been defined as:

  • Essential health workers and other essential workers, as confirmed by the Ministry of Health and Government
  • Citizens of Samoa and Tonga making essential travel to New Zealand
  • People coming to New Zealand for humanitarian reasons
  • Partners, dependent children and legal guardians of, and who are travelling with, a New Zealand citizen or resident partners (restrictions apply)
  • Visitor, student and work visa holders who are ordinarily resident in New Zealand and who are the partner or dependent child of a temporary student or work visa holder who is in New Zealand


There are some notable gaps in the above which we are currently seeking to clarify.


The process for securing a visa to travel to and enter New Zealand on this basis, or for securing a variation to a visa already held so as to allow entry to New Zealand, is to lodge an expression of interest (EOI) to INZ. A case officer will then determine whether the criteria appear to be met and, if so, an invitation to apply will be issued.

We also note that there has been an extension of certain government assistance to temporary residents. While this is welcome news, it is important to be aware of the flow-on effects that has for temporary residents New Zealand tax status. Read more here


If you would like advice, or representation regarding any immigration matters, including making an EOI to travel to New Zealand for a critical purpose, please contact one of our immigration team.