Immigration update for migrants, what you can do right now

Due to COVID-19, there have been a lot of delays and disruption to visa processing, and those changes have caused significant confusion amongst migrants.  So, in this article, we’re outlining the best course of action and suggested focus for common visa types and scenarios – so that you know exactly where you stand, what you should be aware of, and what you should be doing.

“I am an NZ citizen/resident living abroad and my partner wants to apply for a visa based on partnership”

The NZ government isn’t processing applications from offshore people. So, you may need to utilise the ‘exception to border closure process’ in addition to submitting a standard application.  That pathway needs to be thought through carefully and can be complex.

Our recommendation? If you’re planning on coming over in 2021, we recommend getting a standard application in sooner rather than later, to ensure you’re as high up the queue for processing as possible, as there are likely to be delays.

If you want to be here this year, you should act fast, consider completing a standard application as well as apply for ‘exception to the border closure process’. Also, consider whether you can even get flights, as many people are finding flights hard to secure and subject to cancellations.

In summary, you need to address:

  • When are you coming?
  • What flights are available (if it’s in the short term)
  • What’s on record with immigration about your relationship?
  • Your strategy for the application. (What applications are you going to make, in what order, and what exceptions do you want to apply for?)

Here at NZIL we can help you prepare the best case for your application and apply for border closure exceptions where appropriate.

“I am qualified to apply as a Skilled Migrant; I still have a job and I want to apply for residency”

We recommend you prepare your documentation and submit an expression of interest.
Pool draws are not yet open, the timetable is uncertain, but you should prepare now to ensure your expression of interest and/or application is ready to file.

If you require docs from overseas you need to explore whether you can get them or not. For example, can you get a South African police clearance currently due to COVID-19 related closures?

There is the ability for immigration officers to waive some of the requirements needed in order to file applications, but it’s not guaranteed that that waiver will be given.

The four-month requirement to file an application after the issue of an invitation to apply has been extended to 10 months but only for those people who have already been invited to apply between the dates of 1 November 2019 and 15 April 2020.

You will need to be mindful of the financial viability of your job – can it continue to offer stable employment in the wake of COVID-19? This is a potential problem for the tourism and hospitality sectors.

In summary, you should:

  • Check your eligibility
  • Prepare documentation – and be mindful of what you can and can’t get access to.
  • Submit an Expression of Interest

Here at NZIL we can get your eligibility checked and help you prepare best case for your application. That way you will be the ready with your EOI once pool draws re-start, and with a decision ready application able to be filed.

“Skilled migrants who still have jobs, but their work visa is about to expire, and they want to apply for a residence visa”

 The first potential problem in this area is that an employer has to show they can offer stable income and employment. Tourism and hospitality sectors could be in for a difficult time in this regard.

Secondly, stricter enforcement of labour market test will make it harder for migrants to get visas.
It is likely that government does not want to allow employers to employ anyone from overseas over a New Zealander. So, they will be looking at the advertising process (nature and extent of) with a lot more care.

Companies will need to prove that there aren’t unemployed New Zealanders who can do the job – and there will be more scrutiny to make sure the employer isn’t simply trying to help their existing employee out.  (You can read more about this issue in an earlier blog we wrote here)

Migrants wanting to change employers and vary the conditions on their work visas

During lockdown, essential service businesses could get variations of conditions for people who wanted to work for an employer who was able to operate during level 4 if they were in same geographical location and wanted to do same job.

Alternatively, someone from the same company may have needed to be redeployed into a different role.

However, this variation only lasts for 6 weeks as of 14th May then the visa reverts to the old conditions.

In summary, you will need to: 

  • Get any changes to your work visa formalised.
  • Ensure your application meets the criteria and is correctly filed as a Variation of Conditions, or whether it needs to be filed as a new Work Visa that is labour market tested
  • Be mindful of enhanced labour market testing and a potential queue for processing.
  • Companies may need to prove that there are not unemployed New Zealanders out there first.

Unsure about your application? Don’t want to leave anything to chance? Here’s how we can help:

At NZIL we understand the system and requirements and can review your documents and advise you on the likelihood of success.

This could potentially save you thousands of dollars in wasted application fees if you don’t have a strong case. We can look over your application and give you in-depth advice on a clear pathway forward.

Whether you are an employer looking to recruit a skilled migrant, or an applicant we can look over an application and give you in-depth advice on a clear pathway forward.

With our many years of experience in dealing with complex immigration matters, we will be able to direct you on the best course to take.

Contact us to find out how we can assist you or any clients with immigration issues. We can act on a consulting basis or take over the case if required.



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