Immigration New Zealand eases visa restrictions for visitors

Venkat Raman

Venkat Raman

Auckland, February 19, 2021

Two-month automatic visitor visa extension for most visitor visa holders
Temporary waiver of time spent in New Zealand rule for visitor stays

                    
                                                                Image Courtesy: www.rnz.co.nz


Visitors already in New Zealand will be able to stay a little longer as Immigration New Zealand eases their visa requirements.

Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi announced a series of changes effective for visas expiring on or before March 31, 2021.

He said that 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. INZ will email affected visa holders to confirm the visa extension by March 5, 2021.

The cost per application (for one person only) is $246 including immigration and International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy of $35.

Criteria for extension

“We have also listened to New Zealand’s business sector, including tourism ventures, which say that foreign visitors who are still here can help our local economies. Therefore, visitor visas expiring on or before March 31, 2021 will be automatically extended by two months,” Mr Faafoi said.

However, they must apply for a new visa, he added.

The automatic extension will apply to around 12,500 visa holders.

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.

 
Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi (Beehive Picture)


Another temporary change

INZ will also 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 March 31, 2021 will not 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 June 30, 2021. That is because the temporary waiver of that nine months of 18 rule will end on June 30, 2021,” Mr Faafoi said.

Other Requirements

He said that applicants must still 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.

“While we have made these changes to help many visitors facing uncertain and worrying situations 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,” he said.

He said that the government expects all migrants in New Zealand to ensure that they are here lawfully and are able to support themselves.

Financial Warning

However, Mr Faafoi warned that temporary migrants who are in New Zealand without the means to support themselves, or who become unlawful, are at risk of migrant exploitation or not being able to meet their basic needs.

To be granted a visitor visa, applicants must have at least $1000 per month, or $400 per month if they have already paid for accommodation or have an acceptable sponsor.

“Migrants who stay here after their visas have expired also risk having their unlawful status count against them should they wish to travel to New Zealand or elsewhere in the world in the future,” he said.

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