Following from the announcement of the Government on 3 February 2022, the New Zealand borders are finally reopening. After a long two years of fighting for both visas and Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) places, we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.
However, the borders are not being opened immediately. It will be a staged re-opening, over five steps.
Step one begins on 11:59 pm Sunday 27 February 2022.
It permits fully vaccinated New Zealanders and other eligible travellers under current border settings (such as people with border exemptions) from Australia to travel into New Zealand, without having to go through MIQ.
Eligible travellers include:
- Critical Health Workers
- Short term ‘other citical workers’
- Long term ‘other critical workers’
- Border exceptions
- Dairy farm mangers and assistants;
- Shearers and wool handlers;
- Deepwater fishing crew;
- Rural contractors;
- General practice veterinarians;
- International students;
- Government approved events and programmes, for example Antarctic programmes;
- Major infrastructure projects;
- Tech sector workers; and
- External auditors.
Step two begins on 11:59 pm Sunday 13 March 2022.
It permits fully vaccinated New Zealanders, and other eligible travellers under current border settings from the rest of the world, to travel to New Zealand. It may also permit skilled workers earning at least 1.5 times the median wage, $84,240.00 and their families, to enter New Zealand, without having to go through MIQ. During this step, some of the Working Holiday Schemes will also reopen. This allows people to come to New Zealand to work and travel.
Key sectors who benefit from this will be people in Information and Communication Technology, agriculture, education and office professionals.
Step three begins on 11:59 pm Tuesday 12 April 2022.
It permits the following to enter New Zealand:
- Temporary visa holders who still hold a valid temporary visa;
- Up to 5,000 students, for semester two;
- Professional sports players and team members; and
- Performers and support crew for cultural events with significant national/regional benefits.
The government will also consider granting entry to further classes of critical workers who do not meet the skilled worker salary mentioned above.
Step four is anticipated to begin in July 2022. It may occur earlier.
This step sees the removal of the critical worker border exemption process, replaced by the new accredited employer regime. It also sees entry for any person from a visa-waiver travel country (consisting of visitors and shot-term business travellers) and finally, the entry for all Australians, whether it be family, friends, tourists or short-term business travellers.
Step five is anticipated to begin in October 2022.
Step five is when New Zealand fully opens it borders to the world. It reopens to visitors from anywhere in the world, and all visa categories will be fully opened. Normal visa processing will resume during this step.
What of MIQ?
MIQ has caused a lot of heartache. From 27 February 2022, MIQ will be completely abolished for vaccinated people.
MIQ will however, still be around. It will be used for high-risk travellers, such as those who are unvaccinated.
While there will no longer be the MIQ requirement for vaccinated people, people travelling to New Zealand must still go through periods of self-isolation.
Every person travelling to New Zealand must self-isolate for 10 days. Once New Zealand moves into phase two of the Omicron response, people traveling to New Zealand will only need to self-isolate for seven days.
Upon arriving into New Zealand, the person will be given three rapid antigen tests. One will be used on day zero or day one, the second one is to be used on day five or six, and finally the third one is a back-up.
If a positive result occurs, the person will be requested to obtain a follow up PCR test at a community station.
After a long two years, we finally see New Zealand opening its arms to the world again. We can finally see families reuniting, the benefits of having skilled workers in our economy, and visitors seeing our beautiful country. For advice on which step you meet or how you can meet each step, contact 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.