New Zealand moved to Alert Level 4, meaning that people are instructed to stay at home and all businesses except essential services and lifeline utilities must close. They are required to close their visa processing offices in New Zealand. This significantly reduces their ability to operate, so they are only able to process a small number of priority applications.
The Government has also announced an epidemic management notice to control the spread of COVID-19. This notice comes into effect on Thursday 2 April 2020.
They know there are people currently in New Zealand who are unable to leave because of travel restrictions around the world. We hope that this helps you understand your visa options during this uncertain time.
Temporary visas can be extended
The epidemic management notice means all visas will be extended to 25 September 2020, for people who are currently in New Zealand on 2 April 2020 on a valid temporary entry class visa, if the expiry date in their visa states it expires between 2 April 2020 and 9 July 2020 inclusive. This includes:
- work visa holders
- student visa holders
- visitor visa holders
- interim visa holders, and
- limited visa holders.
If you are in New Zealand
They are sympathetic to individuals who are currently in New Zealand and unable to return to their home country at this time.
- Your visa expires between now and 1 April 2020
If the expiry date stated in your visa is on or before 1 April 2020 you must apply for a visa online before your current visa expires.
If you cannot provide the information required by the online form, such as a new medical certificate, upload an explanation instead to complete your application.
When you apply for a visa online it is accepted automatically. This means after you apply, you will be granted an interim visa automatically when your current visa expires. An interim visa will allow you to remain lawfully in New Zealand for six months.
- Your temporary visa expires between 2 April and 9 July 2020
If your temporary visa expires between 2 April and 9 July 2020, it will automatically be extended to late September 2020. The New Zealand Department of Immigration will confirm this by email in early April.
They are aware that some individuals may wish to apply for a change of visa conditions. They are currently working through the options for this.
Options to leave New Zealand
You may be able to still leave New Zealand before the expiry date on your temporary visa if you are able to.
International flights are still operating in and out of New Zealand, but you should start organising your trip home as soon as you can. As the global situation changes and more borders close, it will become harder to travel.
Before you make plans to head home
- Check your home country’s border restrictions to see if you can return;
- Find out if you are required to self-isolate when you get home. Embassies will have this information;
- Find out about the border restrictions of any stopover country you are transiting through. You may not be allowed to transit via certain countries. Contact your Embassy for this information;
- Contact a travel agent to talk about flights home. Even if you didn’t book your travel through a travel agent, they will be able to tell you what is happening with your flight, or how to book a flight;
- Use airline and airport websites to check your booked flight. Airline schedules have been disrupted so make sure your flight is going ahead as scheduled; and
- Book a flight before going to an airport. Airline staff at airports are very busy trying to help travelers and booking a flight at the airport will be very difficult. Do not turn up at the airport more than 3 hours prior to departure.