A number of temporary work visa were overseas when our border closed and so do not meet current criteria to be granted a border exception. Some of these individuals have lived and worked in New Zealand and have a strong on-going connection. This new category will enable a limited number to return to their home in New Zealand and have a strong on-going connection. This category will enable a limited number to return to their home in New Zealand.
It is expected that individuals will be able to start requesting a border exception under this category from early October 2020.
Immigration instructions to give effect to this new border exception will be made public once they have been certified by the Minister of Immigration.
Individuals applying under this border exception must:
- have been living in New Zealand for at least two years (or one year in some specific cases), and
- Returning to the same job they held before departing New Zealand, or continue to operate a business in New Zealand as part of entrepreneur work visa, and
- have departed New Zealand on or after 1 December 2019, and
have held either:
- a Work to Residence visa, or
- an Essential Skills visa (assessed as mid-skilled or higher-skilled) when they departed New Zealand and does not expire before the end of 2020 or, if it is expiring before end of 2020, they must have applied for a further visa on the basis of the same job when they left that allows them to remain in New Zealand for 12 months or more before 10 August 2020.
Requests received before this new category becomes operational in October will be assessed against the criteria in place at the time we received the request.
All individuals who are granted this exception will still be required to spend 14 days in managed isolation or quarantine (MIQ).
- Temporary visa holders who were ordinarily resident in New Zealand in the last 12 months and left New Zealand on or before 19 March 2020 are exempt from MIQ charges.
- Any temporary visa holders who left New Zealand after 19 March 2020 will be required to pay for their MIQ.
Q and A
When does the new border exception category come into effect?
It is expected that individuals will be able to start requesting a border exception under this category from early October.
How do I prove I still have a job or a business?
The details of this are still being worked through. More information about the criteria and requirements will be available on INZ’s website later this month.
What about people who don’t meet this criteria – when will they be able to return to New Zealand?
Any decisions to further change or lift border restrictions will be made by the Government.
The priority at the moment is to enable work visa holders with strong connections to New Zealand to return while ensuring there is still capacity in managed isolation and quarantine for returning New Zealanders.
What if I have lost my job because I’ve been overseas for so long? Can I come back and get a new job?
To be granted an exception under this category, individuals must be returning to the same job with the same employer or be operating a business in New Zealand as part of entrepreneur work visa. Individuals who have lost their job will not meet the criteria to be granted an exception to return to New Zealand.