We, along with many others, breathed a collective sigh of relief when the Government announced a visa pathway for family members of Ukrainians in New Zealand.
The 2022 Special Ukraine Visa provides a pathway for Ukrainians permanently living in New Zealand, to sponsor their family members. However, there are several caveats, which will exclude many.
Sponsors need to be permanently in New Zealand
The most notable caveat is that only Ukrainians living permanently in New Zealand can sponsor their families. Therefore, many Ukrainians, who have had temporary visas for many years, cannot sponsor their family members.
Don’t forget that the Government has suspended the main residence visa application programme for well over two years, so many of these people had no ability to obtain residence. The 2021 Resident Visa programme only opened to many on 1 March 2022. This has effectively left many Ukrainian citizens, who are long-term residents of New Zealand, unable to help their families in the Ukraine.
Does not confer refugee status
The 2022 Special Ukraine Visa also does not provide refugee or protected person status. Therefore, the applicants receive limited protection.
The temporary visa does reunite family members for two years. It also provides work rights for those over 18, and study rights for those under 18.
It is presumed that applicants aged 19 years or older will not be permitted to study, which will undoubtedly cause problems for those part way through their degrees in the Ukraine.
The visa allows the nominated family member, to include their partner and children in their application.
Applications for the 2022 Special Ukraine Visa, can only be made by the applicant after they have been invited to apply by Immigration New Zealand.
To obtain an invitation to apply, an expression of interest must be submitted by the sponsor (or their representative), who lives in New Zealand. That sponsor must be an ‘acceptable sponsor’ and agree to cover all accommodation/ living costs.
Applications must be submitted by 15 March 2023. There are no application fees.
If the application for the 2022 Special Ukraine Visa is approved, an eVisa will be issued. The holder can then immediately enter New Zealand and must do so within nine months.
Immigration New Zealand has indicated that these applications will be prioritised, with a streamlined approach requiring minimal documentation.
A sponsor can support their parents, grandparents, siblings, or adult children for the 2022 Special Ukraine Visa.
Who can be a sponsor?
The sponsor must meet the following criteria:
- ordinarily live in New Zealand
- be a New Zealand citizen or have a current residence class visa
- have been born in Ukraine, or have held citizenship or be a permanent resident of Ukraine, and
- be an ‘acceptable sponsor’ for a temporary visa, which means:
not be formally insolvent or bankrupt
not be liable for deportation
not be serving a custodial sentence or waiting to be sentenced for a crime that involves a custodial sentence
Who can the sponsor nominate?
The family member must
- meet the standard temporary visa health and character requirements, although evidence such as medical checks and police certificates will not be required; and
- have been ordinarily resident in Ukraine, as of January 2022.
We are relieved that there is a pathway for some Ukrainians to find safety in New Zealand. However, we sincerely hope that the Government will consider expanding this to family members of Ukrainians with temporary visas, given many of them have not had any opportunity, until very recently, to apply for residence themselves.
For advice on how to navigate the sponsorship requirements and process of supporting your Ukrainian family to join you in New Zealand, reach out to our team of immigration specialists.
Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and not intended as a substitute for specific professional advice on any matter and should not be relied upon for that purpose.