Govt helping new residents stuck offshore keep residency status
“These changes will provide around 5,600 resident visa holders, who have invested a lot of time and money to be granted a resident visa, with more certainty about their ability to come and settle in New Zealand in the future,” Kris Faafoi said.Devdiscourse News Desk | Wellington | Updated: 09-09-2020 08:55 IST | Created: 09-09-2020 08:55 IST
The Government is making changes to help new residents stuck offshore keep their residency status while COVID-19 travel restrictions remain in place.
"The Government understands the uncertainty that COVID-19 has had on a number of visa holders, particularly individuals overseas who have not been able to travel to New Zealand to activate their new resident visa, or who have been unable to return to New Zealand before their travel conditions expired," Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi said.
Individuals who are granted a resident visa must travel to New Zealand within a certain timeframe to activate their visa. However, current border restrictions have prevented many individuals from being able to travel or return to New Zealand, and, as a result, their visa has expired or is about to expire.
"By powers given to me under the Immigration Act, individuals whose travel conditions are about to expire will receive a 12-month extension to travel to New Zealand, and those whose travel conditions have expired on or after 2 February 2020 (when travel restrictions began) will be issued a new visa, also valid for 12 months.
"These changes will provide around 5,600 resident visa holders, who have invested a lot of time and money to be granted a resident visa, with more certainty about their ability to come and settle in New Zealand in the future," Kris Faafoi said.
"The Government recognises that these individuals have recently met the requirements to be granted residence. If not for border closures forced by the COVID-19 pandemic, they would be living in New Zealand and contributing to our team of five million," Mr Faafoi said.
Individuals will only be able to travel to New Zealand if they are exempt from the current border restrictions or have been granted an exception. Extending travel conditions for these visa holders or issuing a new visa does not mean these individuals are now exempt from the current border restrictions if they were not previously.
"It has been important to run tight border restrictions to keep COVID-19 contained while also prioritising the return of New Zealanders. But we are now able to start making some adjustments to immigration settings which will allow a small number of people who, under normal circumstances, would have the right to come to New Zealand to know that will still be possible," Kris Faafoi said.
These changes build on other changes made by the Minister of Immigration using his new powers under the Act, including:
extending by six months onshore temporary work visas and those of their families due to expire by the end of 2020 benefitting around16,500 workers and their families;
extending onshore visitor visas that were due to expire before the end of October 2020 for five-months;
extending Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme (RSE) visas by six months for workers who are still in New Zealand and unable to return home, as well as allowing more flexible hours and roles for those RSE workers still in New Zealand.
(With Inputs from New Zealand Government Press Release)