COVID-19 response

If you are looking for the latest legal information relating current Coronavirus laws in New Zealand, check out our new section: Coronavirus and the Law.



Special COVID-19 rules

The official response to COVID-19 included significant temporary changes to Temporary Visa laws.
For more details, see “Temporary Visas: Working, studying or visiting for a limited time” section in this chapter.


Special visa category for people affected by Christchurch shootings and their families

Immigration New Zealand has created a permanent residence visa category specially for those directly affected by the shootings at the Masjid Al Noor and Linwood mosques, as well as their families. It’s called the “Christchurch Response 2019” category. This chapter includes a summary of this special category and who it covers: see “Christchurch shootings: People directly affected and their families”.

Victims of the attacks and their families can also get different kinds of support from ACC and other organisations. For more information see “Christchurch shootings: Support for victims” in the chapter “Accident Compensation (ACC)”.

Overview of New Zealand’s immigration system

New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, s 18(2); Immigration Act 2009, s 13

New Zealand citizens can leave and return to New Zealand whenever they want, and they can live, work and study here indefinitely. This chapter is aimed at people who aren’t New Zealand citizens – it explains when they’re legally allowed to enter and stay in New Zealand and what they’re allowed to do when they’re here (for example, whether they’re allowed to do paid work).

If you’re not a New Zealand citizen and you have an immigration problem, you’ll need to work out what your current immigration status is – that is, whether you’re here “lawfully” or “unlawfully” (legally or illegally) – and then what types of visas might be available to you and what options you might have for getting a visa (for example, applying in the usual way or applying as a special case because you’re here illegally).

This section gives an overview of those basic questions and how the New Zealand immigration system works.

Checking for recent changes to the immigration rules

Many of the immigration rules explained in this chapter are contained in policies issued by the government, rather than by laws passed by Parliament. Because of this, immigration rules can be changed more easily and more often than, for example, rules around tenancy agreements. Please check for any changes since we published this edition of the Community Law Manual.

You can find all the current immigration rules (including both policies and laws) in Immigration New Zealand’s “Operational Manual”, available online at: If a particular immigration rule we cover in this chapter is from government policy rather than law, we include a reference so you can find it in the Operational Manual – for example, “INZ Operational Manual: Temporary Entry, W2.15” for rules about funds requirements for Work Visas.

This chapter includes changes to the Operational Manual up to the end of July 2020. You can check if a particular policy has been changed since we published this chapter by looking at the date note (in orange, on the right hand side) at the end of each section of the online Operational Manual. For example, the section W2.15 currently has the note “Effective 21/11/2011” at the end, which tells you that the rules in that section of the Manual haven’t been changed since 21 November 2011.

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