Coronavirus and the Law

Coronavirus and the Law

COVID-19 Immigration FAQs

Flexible working conditions for migrant workers in supermarkets

Immigration New Zealand has relaxed visa restrictions for temporary migrant workers and international students working in supermarkets. To be eligible for these flexible conditions you must have been an employee of a supermarket the day before the region you live in went into alert level 3 or 4.

If you are a temporary migrant worker or international student employed by a supermarket, you will be able to:

  • vary the hours you work,
  • be reassigned to other roles within your current worklpaces, or
  • be reassigned to workplaces within the same region.

You and your employer won’t need to apply for a ‘Variation of Conditions’ to amend your visa. Supermarkets mean those operated by Woolworths New Zealand – owners of Countdown, Super Value and FreshChoice supermarkets and Foodstuffs Limited – owners of New World, Pak n Save and Four Square.

These flexible conditions will be in place until 31 December 2023.

Visa conditions and extensions

My visa is expiring soon but I wasn’t able to leave New Zealand because of Covid-19 – what do I do?

If your visa is about to expire and you are unable to travel home, you can apply for the COVID-19 Short-term Visitor Visa. This is a new two-month visitor visa available for people reaching the end of their current visas who need extra time to make arrangements to travel home. You’re not allowed to work while on this visa.

You can apply online for this visa using your RealMe account. It costs $246. You’ll need to apply before your old visa expires.

You need to prove that:

  • you have a valid passport
  • you are of good character
  • you have a genuine reason for remaining in NZ
  • you can’t leave now due to COVID-19 but will leave at the end of your stay

You don’t need to prove that:

  • you have enough money to stay in NZ
  • you already have travel bookings made
  • you have good health
  • you have met any time limits for staying on a visitor’s visa.

You can apply for this visa more than once as long as you can prove that you still meet the requirements, including that you can’t leave New Zealand as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I have a Working Holiday visa and it’s expiring soon – do I need to apply for an extension to stay in New Zealand?

Immigration NZ has extended Working Holiday visas that are expiring between 21 June 2021 and 31 December 2021 by 6 months.

You must have been in New Zealand on 14 June 2021 to qualify for the extension.

If you qualify for the extension, the conditions of extended Working Holiday visas have  changed to allow you to work as part of a working holiday scheme in any employment except permanent employment.

If you think you qualify for the extension but you have not been contacted by Immigration NZ, you can request an extension via the Immigration NZ website.

I have a Supplementary Seasonal Employer (SSE) work visa and it’s expiring soon – do I need to apply for an extension to stay in New Zealand?

Immigration NZ has extended SSE visas that expire between 30 June 2021 and 31 December 2021 by 6 months.

You must have been in New Zealand on 14 June 2021 to qualify for the extension.

If you qualify for the extension, the conditions of extended SSE work visas have changed to have open work rights which means you can work in any sector.

If you think you qualify for the extension but you have not been contacted by Immigration NZ, you can request an extension via the Immigration NZ website.

I have an employer-assisted temporary visa and it is expiring soon – do I need to apply for an extension to stay in New Zealand?

Immigration NZ has extended all existing employer-assisted temporary work visas by 6 months.

If your employer-assisted work visa expired on a date between 1 January 2021 and 30 June 2021, and you are still in New Zealand, your visa was automatically extended by 6 months from the date of expiry. This applies to

  • Essential Skills Work Visas
  • Work to Residence visas
  • Special and Skilled work visas for China, Indonesia, South Korea, Philippines and Vietnam
  • Special Category Work Visas for Japanese Interpreters and Thai Chefs
  • Employer-specific work visas granted under section 61 of the Immigration Act 2009
  • Silver Fern Practical Experience Visas
  • Religious Worker Work Visa

The extension is automatic – you don’t need to apply. All the other conditions of your original visa remain the same, like the specific occupation, employer and location. You are also covered if your visa had been previously extended to 25 September 2020.

If you have a partner or dependent child, and their visa is based on a relationship with you, the expiry date of their visas may have been extended. If their visas were not extended, they will need to apply for a new visa. There is a tool on the Immigration NZ website where you can check to see if your visa was extended.

I have an employer assisted work visa but have lost my job

There are two situations where you have to tell Immigration that you have lost your job (as they consider this to be a relevant change in your circumstances)

  • When you have applied for a visa on the basis of having that job and it is still being considered by Immigration
  • When you have left the country and wish to re-enter, in which case you need to tell Immigration of your change in circumstances at the border.

You don’t have to notify Immigration that you have lost your job when on an employer assisted work visa if neither of the situations listed above apply to you.

I’ve applied for a new employer assisted work visa but my job offer has been withdrawn before a decision has been made on the application

You have to tell Immigration of this change in your circumstances in the following two situations:

  • Where you have applied for a visa based on that job and it is still being considered by Immigration
  • Where you have left the country and wish to re-enter, in which case you need to tell Immigration of your change in circumstances at the border.

I’m on a work visa and my hours or salary have been cut – am I in breach of my visa conditions?

Your E-visa label contains the conditions of your visa and will state what your hours and salary are. If your employer reduces your hours or salary so they are below that stated on the E-visa label, you will be in breach of your visa conditions.  This means that you could receive a deportation liability notice and be deported from New Zealand.

I lost the job that my work visa depended on – can I change my visa conditions to allow me to work for a different employer?

If your visa conditions tie you to a specific employer and you want to start working for a new employer, you will usually need to apply for a change in your visa conditions, or for a new visa. However, if you are in New Zealand under a working holiday scheme or partnership work visa, you can work for a new employer without notifying Immigration NZ.

I lost the job my visa depended on when my employer made me redundant – is there anything I can do to get the job back?

Whether you’re a migrant or a New Zealand citizen, New Zealand employers must follow New Zealand employment law, and this includes following a proper consultation process when they make someone redundant. If your employer didn’t follow a proper redundancy process, it may be worth negotiating with them to get your job back so that you can keep your work visa.

Your employer may have been given wrong advice when they made you redundant, or been confused about their legal obligations in the stress and uncertainty of the pandemic. They may now be eager to avoid having you take legal action against them by bringing a “personal grievance”. As the Covid-19 restrictions ease they may also be needing more staff again.

If you approach your employer about getting your job back, you may want to discuss with them options like you going on unpaid leave while the business is closed, or you working reduced hours or for less pay.

Before you start talking to your employer about this, make sure you’re aware of your rights and your employment’s obligations when it comes to redundancies. You can get more information about this here.

My visa was not extended – what can I ?

If your visa was not extended and it has expired, you can apply for a special temporary or resident visa so that you can remain in the country lawfully. It is a good idea to see a lawyer or immigration advisor at this point for advice. You can ask a Community Law Centre in your area for advice.

For more information on applying for a visa as a special case “section 61 visa”, see the Immigration chapter in the Community Law Manual here.

How to Appeal a Deportation Liability Notice

Immigration can give you a Deportation Liability Notice if your temporary visa has expired and you are unlawfully in New Zealand.  This means that you might be deported. You can appeal the notice to the Immigration Protection Tribunal. This appeal is made on humanitarian grounds and takes into account all of your personal and family circumstances, including the situation in your home country.

It is a good idea to see a lawyer or immigration advisor at this point for advice. You can ask a Community Law Centre in your area for advice.

Appeals against deportation need to be made within 42 days of your visa expiring or within 28 days of receiving the notice. It costs $700.  You will need to fill out this form (form 5 – Humanitarian Appeal against Deportation) and enclose two copies of all information that supports your appeal.  These documents must be originals (not photocopies) and in English (or translated by an approved translator).

Any letters or statements you include must be signed by the relevant person and on official letterhead (for example if you have a letter from your child’s school principal, it must be on school stationery).

Send or deliver it to:

Immigration Protection Tribunal

Auckland Tribunals

Level 1 Chorus House

41 Federal St

Auckland 1010

 

Or post to:

Immigration Protection Tribunal

Auckland Tribunals

DX EX11086

Auckland

Border exception process for those who don’t qualify for entry to New Zealand under the current rules

At the moment, entry to New Zealand from other countries is still strictly controlled to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, there is a border exception process available for people who have an urgent reason to travel to NZ while there are COVID-19 border restrictions in place.  This covers the following categories:

  • Tongan or Samoan National requiring essential travel to NZ
  • partner or dependent child of student or work visa holder
  • partner or dependent child of NZ citizen or resident
  • legal guardian of NZ citizen or resident
  • Australian citizen or permanent resident that normally lives in NZ
  • critical health worker
  • humanitarian
  • replacement cargo ship crew
  • early childhood, primary or secondary teacher
  • partner or dependent child of early childhood, primary or secondary teacher
  • partner or dependent child of an early childhood, primary or secondary teacher already in New Zealand.

To apply you’ll need to fill out the Request for travel to New Zealand form here. The fee changes depending on what your country of citizenship is and where you apply from.

You’ll still have to meet character and medical requirements like any other normal visa application. If you’re granted an exception to the rules, you will be issued a critical purpose visitor visa. If you already have a student or work visa you will be granted a variation of your visa conditions.

Income support

I am in New Zealand on a temporary visa and don’t have any income – what support can I get?

There are no Work and Income benefits available to migrant workers affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, there are some options available to you if you need help:

  • Immigration New Zealand’s advice is to contact your embassy or consulate to ask for help
  • Your local Civil Defence Emergency Management Group may be able to help if you urgently need essential supplies like food – click here to find your local 0800 number for help from Civil Defence with essential supplies
  • Your local council may also be able to help you with essentials – click here to find an alphabetical list of local councils and their contact details
  • Community groups and food banks in your area may be able to offer support
  • The Government Helpline 0800 779 997 may be able to direct you to the relevant organisation for your situation.

Support for victims of family violence

My visa is based on my partnership, but my partner is being abusive towards me – what can I do?

You may qualify for a work or residence visa under Immigration NZ’s Victims of Family Violence visa category. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Immigration NZ is giving priority to processing work visa applications for this category.

For more information on this visa category, click here.

In an emergency, call the New Zealand Police on 111. The following groups are also available to support you:

  • Women’s Refuge crisis line | 0800 733 843 – 24 hours
  • Shine National Helpline | 0508 744 633 – 9am to 11pm
  • Shama – sexual violence crisis support for ethnic women – email them on crisis1@shama.org.nz
  • Shakti – family violence crisis support for ethnic women 0800 742 584 – 24 hours
  • Gandhi Nivas – supporting men to be free from violence – 0800 426 344

 

 

Last updated: 10 September 2021

back to top

Check out Frequently Asked Questions and Answers related to COVID-19 on our website here.

Community Law Centres across Aotearoa are operating remotely. Please contact them via the phone number or email displayed on the Centre’s page.

Find the contact details of your nearest Community Law Centre here.

Page Reader Press Enter to Read Page Content Out Loud Press Enter to Pause or Restart Reading Page Content Out Loud Press Enter to Stop Reading Page Content Out Loud Screen Reader Support