The team at Pathways to New Zealand is always ready to help you with your immigration questions. You may however, find answers to some of your questions on this page. As more frequently asked questions get added, this page will be updated.

 

Visa and Appeal Processing

Will EOI draws continue?

Skilled Migrant Category and Parent Category Expression of Interest (EOI) draws have been deferred. INZ has reduced processing capacity during the COVID-19 Alert Levels, and it is difficult for applicants to obtain the required documents and evidence to submit an application at this time.

The deferrals are a temporary measure, and INZ have stated that they will reassess this policy as the COVID-19 situation develops.

I received an Invitation to Apply just before/during the COVID-19 lockdown, which made it hard to submit an application. Is there any extension of timeframes?

If you:
  • submitted an Expression of Interest (EOI) for a Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) residence visa, or
  • submitted an EOI for an Investor 2 residence visa, and
  • received an ITA between 1 November 2019 and 15 April 2020
then you now have an additional six months to submit your residence application.

I am a New Zealand resident and I received a deportation liability notice, what should I do?

If you have received a deportation liability notice from Immigration New Zealand you should urgently seek professional advice.

If your deportation liability has been previously suspended you do not need to do anything further, you will need to ensure to comply with the suspension terms stated in the notice. If your deportation liability is not suspended then you have 28 calendar days to submit an appeal to the IPT against deportation liability. There is no extension on the timeframe to appeal regardless of the lockdown, if the appeal opportunity lapses then you will be deported.

If you have received a letter from INZ resolutions with a questionnaire you are strongly encouraged to seek specialised professional advice.

I am a temporary visa holder and I received a deportation liability notice, what should I do?

It is our strongest recommendation that anyone facing deportation liability has a specialised adviser or lawyer represent them as there are very serious consequences if deportation proceeds, and these are very complex matters.

There are no options for extension of any of the timeframes provided for response and appeal. You will have 14 calendar days to give good reasons to INZ compliance to consider cancelling your deportation liability, and 28 calendar days for appeal. The appeal timeframe is not paused while waiting on INZ compliance to make a decision. There is no extension on the timeframe to appeal regardless of the lockdown, if the appeal opportunity lapses then you will be deported.

My resident visa application was declined and I want to appeal, what should I do?

The 42 day deadline begins from when the decision is received. There are no options for extension of any of the timeframes provided to appeal regardless of the lockdown and the COVID-19 response. If the appeal opportunity lapses then there is no way to later recover this.

Here at Pathways our team includes specialised advisers who work on these matters and who are available to assist you.

Can I apply for a temporary entry class visa if I am currently outside New Zealand?

From 10 August 2020 to 9 November 2020, persons who are outside New Zealand are not able to apply for a temporary entry class visa, unless they:

• are the family member of a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident, or
• are applying for Recognised Seasonal Employer limited visas, or
• have a critical purpose for entering New Zealand and have received an Invitation to Apply.
 

Visa Expiry and Visa Extensions

My visa has expired and I am now unlawful, what should I do?

If you are unlawful you should urgently seek advice on submitting a Section 61 request to regain your lawful status. For anyone who is unlawful it is always in their interests to make every endeavour to recover their lawful status sooner rather than later.

I want to apply for a longer term visa beyond 25 September what can I do?

INZ’s online application system is still operational and new applications can still be submitted. The processing timeframes maybe longer than usual as priority is being given to applications for “essential workers” and Section 61 requests.

I have an approved visa but am currently offshore. Can the first entry date on my visa be changed to allow me to travel later instead of applying for a variation or new visa? Or, can my visa be extended so I don’t need to re-apply?

On 9 September, the Government announced changes that would allow new residents who are offshore to keep their residency status while travel restrictions persist. Using the powers bestowed by the recent Immigration (COVID-19 Response) Amendment Act 2020, individuals whose travel conditions are about to expire will be granted a 12 month extension to travel to New Zealand, and those whose travel conditions have expired on or after 2 February 2020 will be issued a new visa, also valid for 12 months. However, individuals will still not be able to travel to New Zealand unless they are exempt from the border restrictions or have been granted an exception.

In the case of work visas, INZ have communicated that they will be considering the wider impacts of COVID-19, including changes to New Zealand’s labour market when arriving at a decision. For visitors, INZ are again aware of this concern and working towards a resolution, but it is not a priority at this time. However, the Government has announced a new border exception category to enable the return of some temporary work visa holders who are stuck offshore. There are several criteria for this exception category.

My temporary work visa expires between 10 July and 31 December 2020, what do I do?

Existing employer-assisted temporary work visas for people who are in New Zealand and whose visas are due to expire from 10 July to 31 December 2020, will be extended by six months.

In addition to this, the Government announced further changes to temporary work visa settings:

• The introduction of the 12 month stand down period for workers who have been holding low-skilled work visas for 3 years has been delayed by 6 months.
• The duration of all new low-skilled Essential Skills work visas has been reduced from 12 months to 6 months, to mitigate future labour market risks.
 

Varying Visa Conditions

I have a work visa and are either working less than, or being paid for less than, 30 hours a week which is the minimum requirement of my visa – will this be a problem for me?

Usually the requirement would be for you to work, and to be paid for, the work hours set out in your employment agreement but given the unprecedented circumstances, and the government enforced restrictions, our view is that it would be unfair and unreasonable for this situation to be held against you and recommend no action is required at this time but to review this situation often. The recently passed Immigration (COVID-19 Response) Amendment Bill 2020 should help the Government to provide certainty on these questions.

I am a work visa holder and lost my job, what should I do?

Under normal circumstances you and or your employer would be required to inform INZ about this change in circumstance. However these are far from normal circumstances and we believe the government and INZ will be working on interim measures and processes that will be applied to this, and similar situations, to ensure visa holders are not unfairly compromised by something which is completely outside of their, and their employers, control. We recommend no action at this time except to regularly check back to our website or the INZ website for further updates for updates. In the meantime you could seek alternative employment and be prepared to make a new work visa or variation of conditions application.

The recently passed Immigration (COVID-19 Response) Amendment Bill 2020 should help the Government to provide certainty on these questions.

I have been offered a job in an essential work role and need to change my existing visa, or apply for a new visa, before I can begin work. How can I do this?

There is the ability to escalate a work visa application for an essential skills worker. Please contact Pathways to learn about this process and requirements.
 

Wage Subsidy Scheme and Wage Subsidy Extension

I am in New Zealand on a Specific Purpose work visa and the project has been temporarily suspended due to COVID-19. Will my employer cover my wages under the Government’s wage subsidy scheme?

This will depend on who the employer is as per your employment agreement. If your employer is based in New Zealand then you are most likely to be covered under the Government wage subsidy scheme or extension. In case of employees seconded to New Zealand for a specific project by an overseas company, your wages would be the responsibility of your overseas employer.

I am a work visa holder, can my employer force me to take my leave in this time?

An employer, whether they are using the Wage Subsidy Scheme or not, cannot unlawfully compel an employee to use their leave entitlements. However, your employer may require you to take annual leave, including because of temporary workplace closure due to COVID-19, provided they have first consulted with you and provided 14 days notice before the annual leave is to be taken.
 

Work Visa Holder Entitlements

Are migrant employees eligible for publicly funded healthcare?

A person is eligible for publicly funded health and disability services if they hold a work visa that either:
• entitles them to remain in New Zealand for two years or more (work visas start on the person’s first day in New Zealand) OR
• entitles them to remain in New Zealand for a period of time which, together with the time that person has already been lawfully in New Zealand immediately prior to obtaining the visa, equals or exceeds two years

All temporary visas holders in NZ are eligible for publicly funded healthcare if it is related to COVID-19, regardless of their visa status.

If I am not a citizen nor a resident, will I be able to receive treatment for COVID-19?

All people in New Zealand are eligible for publicly funded services to treat COVID-19. This is regardless of visa status. Anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 should contact Healthline for free on 0800 358 5453 or their doctor immediately.

INZ have reiterated that immigration status will not impact on a person’s ability to receive healthcare. Their treatment will be in complete confidence and their information will not be passed on to other agencies.

I am a work visa holder can my employer deny me my leave in this time (including sick leave if I am sick)?

Employees are entitled to four weeks of paid annual leave, after each 12 months of continuous employment for their employer.

Employers cannot unreasonably refuse to allow an employee to take the leave to which they are entitled. However, with regard to when you take leave, your employer may decline a request for annual leave if they are able to provide a genuine business reason for declining.

If you require leave because of COVID-19, you may be eligible for the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme.
 

Employer Obligations

What are my obligations as an employer surrounding leave at this time?

Usual obligations continue to apply. An employer, whether they are using the wage subsidy scheme (or wage subsidy scheme extension) or not, cannot unlawfully compel an employee to use their leave entitlements. The Government has also clarified that an employee cannot have their receipt of the wage subsidy made conditional on their taking annual leave. However, you may require an employee to take annual leave, including because of temporary workplace closure due to COVID-19, provided you have first consulted with your employee and given them 14 days notice before the annual leave is to be taken.

Similarly, employers cannot unreasonably refuse to allow an employee to take the leave to which they are entitled. With regard to when employees take leave, you may only decline a request for annual leave if you have a genuine business reason for declining.

My employee is unable to work as they (or a family member they are caring for) has COVID-19, or are considered high risk. What sick leave entitlements are they eligible for?

The employee may be eligible for the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme which offers the same rates as the wage subsidy scheme of $585.80 per week full time and $350.00 per week for part time workers.

Do I have to pay the new minimum wage of $18.90 from 1st April?

Employees must still be paid for the work they do. They must be paid at least the new minimum wage for each hour of work they do, regardless of whether they are working from home or at an essential business. If you as the employer are unable to amend your payroll system during the Alert Level 4, you should backpay your employees as soon as you are able to do so.
 

Entering and/or remaining in New Zealand

Are there any exceptions to the travel ban for people who are not New Zealand citizens or permanent residents?

The New Zealand border is currently closed to almost all travellers to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Only a small number of people can travel to New Zealand, such as New Zealand citizens and people with a critical purpose to travel. You may need to request to travel first. New exceptions are being announced as the situation unfolds and are set out on the INZ website.

Please contact Pathways if you would like to discuss the process and the requirements for making a travel request.

If I am permitted entry to New Zealand, will I have to go into quarantine?

Yes. From midnight on Thursday, 9 April, anyone entering the country will have to undergo 14 days of quarantine or managed self-isolation in a government-approved facility. The Government will cover the cost of accommodation in these facilities in some cases.

I am a temporary work visa holder and am currently overseas. I cannot travel back to New Zealand for my job right now, does this affect the validity of my current work visa?

If the work visa is linked to a specific job and the job is still available, then the visa will remain valid and you will be able to travel to New Zealand once the travel restrictions are lifted. You may be able to travel sooner if you meet the exception criteria. However, if your job is no longer available, then the work visa will no longer be valid.

On 9 September, the Government announced a new border exception category to enable the return of some temporary work visa holders who are stuck offshore. To be considered for the new border exception and to demonstrate a strong and ongoing connection to New Zealand with realistic prospects of remaining here long-term, visa holders must:

• still hold their job in New Zealand, or continue to operate a business in New Zealand
• hold either a work to residence visa, or an essential skills visa that is not subject to the stand-down period, or an entrepreneur visa
• have departed New Zealand on or after 1 December 2019
• have lived in New Zealand for at least two years, or, if living in New Zealand for at least one year, have one of the following:
- an entrepreneur work visa and operating a business in New Zealand (and operated it before departing New Zealand)
- their dependent children with them in New Zealand (for at least six months)
- parents or adult siblings who are ordinarily resident in New Zealand
- submitted an application for residence by 31 July 2020
• have held a visa at the time of departing that does not expire before the end of 2020, or, if expiring before that date, have applied for a further visa by 10 August 2020.
 

Essential Businesses and Essential Workers

What is an essential business?

A list of businesses considered essential can be found here.

What is an essential health worker?

A list of essential health workers exempt from the travel ban can be found here.