Temporary visa setting changes will help visitors and temporary migrants remain in New Zealand while they arrange travel home, Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi announced today.
Onshore visitor visas that are set to expire before October 31, 2020 will be extended for five months and a new two-month Covid-19 short-term visitor visa will be created to help temporary migrants who are unable to leave due to international travel restrictions.
"We know that international travel restrictions due to Covid-19 have affected many people’s ability to leave New Zealand before their visas expire," Faafoi said.
"These changes will provide visitors and other temporary migrants stranded in New Zealand with more certainty and time to organise travel arrangements home. "
There are about 19,000 people in New Zealand holding visitor visas that would be eligible for the five-month extension.
Faafoi said the new two-month short term visitor visa would also "help people reaching the end of their current visitor, work, student or partnership visa who may not meet the criteria for another visa, and need time to arrange travel home".
A person must be "genuinely unable to leave New Zealand as a result of Covid-19, they are intending to depart, and they meet normal good character requirements".
They will not need to meet usual criteria of having enough money to support their stay, having existing travel arrangements or met the time-limits of being in New Zealand.
"These are short-term, practical measures that are designed to help people remain lawful in New Zealand while they get their travel home organised," Faafoi said.