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Visa processing update

COVID-19

The Coronavirus crisis has heavily impacted Immigration New Zealand's capacity to process all categories of visas, and has had an impact on visa applicants, accordingly. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, INZ has implemented the Epidemic Management Notice, which means applications from individuals who have a critical purpose for coming to New Zealand and some temporary visa categories for onshore visa applicants were strictly prioritised.

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May 2020 update

70% of onshore Immigration Officers are currently able to work, and increasing. All Immigration New Zealand offices offshore remain closed until further notice.

As of early May 2020, and the ability for some staff to access INZ offices, they are now able to resume the processing of paper applications such as residence class visa applications and also prioritise both residence class and temporary entry class visa applications.

What are the visa categories that are prioritised?

Residence applications

Priority will be given where the applicant is in New Zealand, and within this class of applicant:

  • For Skilled Migrant Category (SMC), priority will be given to applications with job offers where:

    • Applicants have an hourly rate equivalent to or higher than twice the median wage (currently $51.00 per hour or an annual salary of $106,080 or more);
    • Applicants hold current occupational registration where registration is required by immigration instructions.

  • For Residence from Work Category applications (Talent (Accredited Employer), Talent (Arts, Culture and Sport), South Island Contribution, Religious Worker and Long Term Skill Shortage List), priority will be given to:

    • Applications which include a job offer with an hourly rate equivalent to or higher than twice the median wage (currently $51.00 per hour or an annual salary of $106,080 or more);
    • Applications which include a job offer which requires occupational registration where occupational registration is required by immigration instructions.

Second priority will be given to residence class visa applications where the applicant is out of New Zealand.

Temporary visa applications

Priority will be given to:

  • applications for critical workers to support the Government response to COVID-19 and
  • other temporary visa applicants that are in New Zealand ('onshore').

There will be some discretion to prioritise certain applications on  a case-to-case basis and this is expected to change as the lockdown alert levels change.

How to apply for a New Zealand visa?

Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply online for eligible visas. Paper applications will take longer to process because of the reduced capacity of staff in onshore offices.

Source: INZ internal mailer to Licensed Immigration Advisers.