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Border Restrictions eased to allow hundreds of families to be reunited

Update 19 April 2021

From 30th April 2021, hundreds of families will be able to reunite as border exemptions are widened to include offshore family members. 

This news will come as a relief for certain families who have been separated for over 1 year

A welcome announcement

Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi announced new border exemptions to allow hundreds of families to be reunited under new "Critical Purpose" criteria. Since New Zealand borders closed in March 2020, thousands of migrants have been waiting for this announcement, to be able to join their partner/family in New Zealand. An estimated 1,100 families have been separated as a result of the border closure. This news is said to be the first of several adjustments in the weeks and months to come.

Who qualifies under the new exemption?

Partners and dependent children of certain temporary visa holders who are currently offshore may travel to New Zealand under the new border exception category from 30 April 2021. The border exception is for these three groups:

  1. Partners and dependent children who held (and continue to hold) a visa for New Zealand but were unable to join their partner or parent in New Zealand before the border closed.
  2. Partners and dependent children of health care workers.
  3. Partners and dependent children of highly-skilled workers.

A key requirement under all three categories is that the supporting person in New Zealand has at least 12 months remaining on their visa.

Partners and dependent children who held a visa before the border closure

Partners or dependent children offshore must hold a current visa based on their relationship to the person who is currently in New Zealand. The supporting person must also have at least 12 months remaining on their work or student visa at the time the request to travel is submitted.

Critical Health workers

To be eligible, you must be the partner or dependent child of a person who is currently in New Zealand on a valid work visa, working as a Health Worker. This means they must have a visa specifying they work in an occupation needed to deliver critical health services in New Zealand, and that visa must be valid for at least 12 months from the date the request to travel is submitted.

If the border exemption request is successful, you will be invited to apply for a visa, and provide updated evidence of your relationship with the primary visa holder (the person in New Zealand).

Partners and dependent children of highly-skilled workers

To be eligible, you must be the partner or dependent child of a person who is currently in New Zealand on a valid temporary visa. The supporting person in New Zealand must:

    • be currently living and working in New Zealand, AND
    • earn at least twice the median salary — currently NZD $106,080 per year, AND
    • hold a visa that is valid for 12 months or more after the date the request to travel is submitted, AND
    • have unique experience and technical/specialist skills not readily obtainable in New Zealand, OR
    • have a role essential for the completion or continuation of a science programme under a government funded or partially government-funded contract, including research and development exchanges and partnerships, and have the support of the Science, Innovation and International Branch at MBIE to carry out this work, OR
    • have a role essential for the delivery or execution of one of the following:
      • an approved major infrastructure project, or a government approved event or a major government approved programme
      • an approved government-to-government agreement
      • work with a significant wider benefit to the national or regional economy.

If the border exemption request is successful, you will be asked to provide evidence that you meet the requirements above, and updated evidence of your relationship.

Get ready now!

At New Zealand Shores, we have been assisting people non-stop despite the pandemic and borders closure. Please contact us if you wish to check your eligibility under the new border exemption criteria.

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