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New Zealand’s 5 Stage Border Reopening Plan Explained

by | Feb 4, 2022 | Articles, Employers, Individuals & Families, News, News & Articles

Estimated Reading Time: 3 mins

The Update

On 3 February 2022, the Government announced New Zealand’s 5 Step Border Reopening Plan.

This article will explain the announcement. Please note that the full policy has yet to be released, therefore we strongly recommend that applicants wait for the full policy before making potentially life-changing decisions.

Step 1: New Zealand & Australia

From 11.59pm 27 February 2022, the border will open to fully vaccinated and pre-departure tested New Zealanders and other eligible travellers coming from Australia (provided they have spent the last 14 days in either New Zealand or Australia). They will be able to travel to New Zealand from Australia utilising the new self-isolation system.

Step 2: International Eligible Travellers Under Current Border Settings, Border Exceptions Expanded, & Working Holiday Schemes

From 11:59pm 4 March 2022, the border will open to fully vaccinated and pre-departure tested New Zealanders and other eligible travellers coming from anywhere in the world. They will be able to travel to New Zealand utilising the new self-isolation system.

From 11:59pm 13 March 2022, the ‘Other Critical Worker’ border exception category will be expanded. Skilled workers earning at or above 1.5 times (currently at $40.50 per hour or $84,240 per annum) the median wage will now be eligible under the ‘Other Critical Worker’ border exception category for roles longer than 6 months, they will also no longer have to prove that their skills are ‘not readily obtainable in New Zealand’. The highly-skilled family reunification border exception will be aligned with the 1.5 times the median wage requirement too.

Working Holiday Schemes will also reopen on a staged basis. Immigration New Zealand will release more information about the reopening times for each country in due course.

Step 3: Some Student Visas, Certain Offshore Temporary Work/Student Visa Holders Who Still Meet Their Visa Requirements, Australian Citizens/Permanent Residents, Visa Waiver Travel, & Some Offshore Visitor Visa Holders

From 11:59pm 12 April 2022, the border will open to up to 5,000 international students. This can be applied for though the border exception process. Immigration New Zealand will provide further details about this in due course.

The border will open to allow for some offshore (outside of New Zealand) temporary work and student visa holders who still meet their visa requirements to return to New Zealand. Immigration New Zealand has also confirmed that some onshore (in New Zealand) temporary work and student visa holders will be able to leave New Zealand and return to New Zealand under Step 3, if they still meet their visa requirements. Onshore applicants should wait for the full policy before leaving New Zealand.

The border will also open to Australian Citizens and Australian Permanent Residents arriving from any offshore location.

From 11:59pm 1 May 2022, visitors from visa waiver countries who hold a valid New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority, will also be able to travel into New Zealand.

Offshore Visitor Visa holders will also be able to return to New Zealand, if they still meet their Visitor Visa requirements. This also means some onshore Visitor Visa holders will also be able to leave and return to New Zealand under Step 3, if they still meet their Visitor Visa requirements. This includes Guardian Visitor Visa holders. Onshore applicants should wait for the full policy before leaving New Zealand.

Step 4: Certain Accredited Employer Work Visa Holders

From no later than July 2022, some Accredited Employer Work Visa holders will be able to enter New Zealand. This means that employers will be able to hire from offshore at this point. Please note that Immigration New Zealand has indicated that the focus will be on roles paid at or above the median wage. Employers need to have both their Employer Accreditation approved and their Job Check(s) granted before they are able to support migrant workers on Accredited Employer Work Visas.

Step 5: Border Is Fully Reopened

From October 2022, the border will fully reopen and all visa categories will reopen, unless a certain visa category is closed or has been paused.

Wait For The Policy

Overall, it is positive news. However, caution must be exercised. Wait for the policy first, then make an informed decision.

How We Can Help

This article was written to provide general guidance only. It is correct at as the date of this article and is subject to further updates. Stay Legal is always happy to provide immigration guidance and solutions. If you have any questions about the 5 Stage Border Reopening Plan, please do not hesitate to contact us. Please call us +64 7 575 2882 or email hello@staylegal.co.nz.

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