Timely relief - visitor visa extensions
The Government has announced that certain individuals who currently hold a visitor visa which is due to expire between 4 September 2020 and 31 October 2020 (and are in New Zealand), will shortly be receiving a 5-month extension to their visas.
Earlier in April, the Government extended temporary visas which were due to expire between 1 April 2020 and 9 July 2020 until 25 September 2020.
Notably, some visitor visa categories will not be extended, these include:
- Critical purpose visa holders;
- Guardians of students;
- Partners or dependants (linked to a work visa) whose visa was extended previously this year.
The response mirrors the previous extensions granted, and again, is a sensible one, given the current difficulties involved with arranging onward travel out of New Zealand. In addition, the heightened cost involved with air travel at present (due to a scarcity of options) means that this announcement will likely come as a relief for close to 20,000 people who are in New Zealand without a clear pathway available to legally extend their stay.
We understand that Immigration New Zealand will be notifying visa holders this month if they are eligible for the 5-month extension.
Short term visitor visa (two-month extension)
As well as the blanket extension, the introduction of a specific two-month ‘COVID-19 short term visitor visa’ has been announced.
While the finer details of this visa category are yet to be confirmed, we understand that individuals who apply for this visa will not need to meet the other usual visitor visa requirements such as demonstrating that they have sufficient funds to support their stay in New Zealand and that they have existing onward travel arrangements to depart New Zealand prior to the expiry of their visa.
This visa is designed to support individuals nearing the expiry of their current visa who may not qualify for the 5-month extension (outlined above) and are unlikely to satisfy the applicable criteria to apply for a subsequent visa under any of the categories that the current temporary visa framework provides for.
Given the short two-month extension period this category of visa would provide, its primary purpose is the extra time granted for individuals to arrange travel out of New Zealand.
Notably, in some circumstances, the additional time afforded may also allow some individuals to apply for and secure employment; facilitating a pathway to remain in New Zealand through one of the ‘employer - assisted’ work visas.
Applications for this visa type will be open from mid-September. We understand that further details on how to make an application will be released by Immigration New Zealand is due course.
Please feel free to contact our specialist immigration team to meet for an initial consultation to discuss any immigration questions you may have.
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. While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this article, this is a rapidly changing environment and the information will be subject to change.