Government eases visa restrictions for visitors
The government has just announced a two month automatic visitor visa extension for most visitor visa holders. Affecting around 12,500 visitor visa holders, Immigration New Zealand will email affected visa holders to confirm the visa extension by 5 March 2021.
At NZIL we are glad to see that the government has taken this step to help visitors in New Zealand who are facing uncertainty and concern about traveling back to their home country during the Covid pandemic.
What the Immigration Minister has said:
“The Government recognises that some visitor visa holders are keen to stay in New Zealand longer while the COVID-19 pandemic is still attacking communities in their home countries,” Kris Faafoi said.
“We have also listened to New Zealand’s business sector, including tourism ventures, which say foreign visitors who are still here can help our local economies.
The extension does not apply to visitors on the special Covid-19 short term two month visitor visa, which was introduced in September last year.
In a second temporary change to immigration settings, the Government has agreed to temporarily waive a rule which states that visitor visa holders can only be in New Zealand for nine months out of an 18 month period.
“Most visa holders currently in New Zealand will have been here for more than nine months by now, which would have excluded them from applying for another visitor visa.
“Waiving this nine months of 18 rule means that visa holders who are still here can apply for a further six-month visa.
“While applicants with visitor visas expiring after 31 March 2021 won’t be eligible for the automatic two month extension, they can still apply for a new visa that gives them exemption from the nine months of 18 rule if they apply for their new visa before 30 June 2021. That is because the temporary waiver of that nine months of 18 rule will end on 30 June 2021.
“Applicants will still need to meet all other requirements for a visitor visa, including proof that they have enough funds to support themselves in New Zealand, as well as pay for their travel home at the end of their stay,” Kris Faafoi said.
“While we have made these changes to help many visitors facing uncertain and worrying situations back in their home countries because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government wants to make clear that people who are here on visitor visas are here as guests for a limited time. We cannot guarantee further extensions or waivers when these changes expire,” Kris Faafoi said.