The Government will make an emergency benefit available to people on temporary work, student or visitor visas who can’t return home and/or support themselves because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni made the announcement today that the emergency benefit will be available from December 1.
Temporary visa holders in hardship because of Covid-19 were previously supported by a temporary programme delivered by Te Tari Taiwhenua, Department of Internal Affairs and the New Zealand Red Cross.
The Red Cross programme is set to end on November 30 after having supported over 12,300 people with basic needs like food and accommodation since July 1, when it began, Sepuloni said.
“We want to ensure people eligible and most in need continue to get support with their basic needs while trying to return home as soon as they can, if they are not able to find suitable employment,” Sepuloni said.
“Even though the employment outlook and frequency of international flights have improved greatly since we came out of lockdown, some people on temporary visas are still unable to return to their home country and are in hardship because of lost jobs, illness or other unforeseen events.”
The emergency benefit will be available until the end of February.
Those temporary visa holders granted the emergency benefit are expected to actively look for work or a way of returning home.
Eligibility will also depend on a person’s income and assets.
“I’ve asked MSD to link people with suitable temporary employment opportunities with a particular focus on places where we have workforce shortages, including seasonal work, wherever possible.”
Applications on or after December 1 can be made by visiting Work and Income at their nearest Ministry of Social Development office and booking an appointment in person.