Do you want to move to New Zealand? We answer COVID-related FAQ and explain what work visas are still available to migrant workers in 2021 and beyond.
Are you thinking about moving to New Zealand? You’re far from alone. Condé Nast Traveller ranked Auckland the world’s most liveable city in 2021, and Wellington came in at a very respectable number 4, tied with Tokyo. Stunning natural beauty, progressive politics, growing industry, and a down-to-earth way of life have made New Zealand an appealing destination for many looking for the perfect place to call home. About 40% of Auckland’s population was born overseas, so it’s actually more cosmopolitan than you might expect – and continues to evolve by leaps and bounds.
New Zealand’s decisive response to the global pandemic has also put us on the world stage, demonstrating our strong leadership and community-minded culture. While COVID-19 has made entry to New Zealand more difficult and put several visa categories on hold, it can be done. We explain the pathways still available to people from overseas looking to gain residency or a temporary work visa and what to expect from the current COVID situation.
When is New Zealand likely to reopen its borders to visitors?
The government anticipates a phased reopening of our borders starting 2022. Requirements for entry and post-arrival quarantine will depend on the country of origin’s risk profile (i.e., vaccination levels and effective pandemic control) and the vaccination status of the person seeking entry.
What skills are in demand in New Zealand?
These vary widely, depending on what skills are currently in short supply. In broader terms, health care (including in-home and aged care), information technology, civil and residential construction, and engineering are reliably in demand. You can find out if your occupation is on the Skill Shortage List using this INZ list checker.
Do I need to match with an employer before I apply for a visa?
Only if you’re applying for a work visa and are ineligible for a work visa that provides open work rights, authorising employment with any employer in any sector. While not mandatory for securing residence, NZ policies place significant value on employment already secured, which will improve residence eligibility and influence application processing priority.
Do I have to quarantine?
Yes. Currently, every person entering New Zealand from any country will be required to isolate in a government-managed quarantine facility for 14 days. The Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) programme reserves hotel rooms expressly for this purpose, and you will need to secure a reservation in an approved MIQ facility (spaces are limited) and present your reservation voucher to airline staff before you are allowed to board your flight to New Zealand.
Be aware that anyone entering the country after 11 August 2020 will have to pay for their MIQ stay, which costs NZ $5,520 for the first or only adult in the room, $2,990 per additional adult, and $1,610 per child over the age of 3. There are plans to introduce at-home self-isolation but these will not take effect till mid-2022 at the earliest. A pilot trial of 150 people is being run but has already closed to expressions of interest.
Do I need to be vaccinated?
Yes. Full vaccination will be required for non-New Zealand citizens arriving in the country from 1 November 2021. Your last dose of a government-approved COVID-19 vaccine must be administered at least 14 days before arrival. You will also need a negative COVID test result within 72 hours of travel.
Travellers will be required to declare their vaccination status when registering for Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) and present proof of vaccination (or a relevant exemption) to their airline and customs officials once they land.
What sort of visa can I get now to enter New Zealand?
The only people who can gain access to New Zealand now are people who qualify for a Critical purpose visa. You can also apply if you are the partner of a New Zealand citizen or visa holder.
Can I apply for residence now even though the Borders are closed?
Yes, but the processing priority is in favour of those that are onshore, which means there will be longer than normal delays for applicants offshore.
Once the borders re-open in 2022 how do I apply for a work visa?
There are multiple classes of work visa, each with differing requirements. Generally, you should have an offer of employment from a New Zealand employer. Depending on the type of work visa you’re applying for, the employer may have to demonstrate that they have been unable to recruit a New Zealand citizen or Resident Visa holder due to a lack of skills in the local labour market. Health and character requirements will need to be met through provision of medical and police clearances.
What is the Skilled Migrant Visa points system? How does it work?
This is currently on hold, however, due to the global pandemic and set to be restarted in mid-2022.The application process has two phases. Your initial application requires you to lodge an expression of interest (EOI) declaring your intent to apply for residence. The EOI includes the calculation of an eligibility score based on certain applicant attributes, e.g., your age, qualifications, job offer, and work experience. Each answer given is worth a designated number of points, and you must meet a point threshold in order for your application to be put into the Resident Visa EOI pool (point threshold subject to change). If your EOI is selected, the government will invite you to apply for residence, at which point a formal application (phase two) can be made.
Can I invest in New Zealand and obtain residence?
The Migrant Investment (Investor 1 and Investor 2) visa categories are for investors who wish to gain residence in New Zealand.
The Investor 1 category requires a 10-million-dollar investment, and from this you can make a direct application for a resident visa.
Immigration New Zealand uses a points-based system to assess eligibility for Investor 2 resident visa. Before you can apply, you need to send an expression of interest (EOI) to Immigration New Zealand detailing your business experience, investment, and detailing how the funds were acquired. If your EOI is selected, you will be invited to apply for residence. You then have four months to send in your application.
Both visa categories remain open, so you can apply now despite the border being closed.
Can I bring my partner? What about family?
Yes, depending on the type of visa you apply for. For example, applications for a Resident Visa may include your partner and any dependent children aged 24 and under.
What about parents?
Due to current pandemic restrictions, the Parent Resident Visa category is closed, with no indication as to when or whether it will reopen. Parents who have the capacity to make a substantial financial investment in New Zealand may apply in the Parent Retirement Resident Visa category. (See the financial requirements below.)
Previously, those who had held a Residence Visa entitlement for at least 3 years could apply for a Parent Resident Visa, but this is no longer the case.
Do you need help with your skilled migrant visa application? Contact the expert legal team at NZIL. We pride ourselves on providing transparency, reassurance, and a clear course of action for all our clients.