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The Immigration (COVID-19 response) Amendment Bill

The Immigration (COVID-19 response) Amendment Bill

The Bill, which aims to temporarily amend immigration legislation to support the quick and efficient management of visa changes during COVID-19, was introduced to New Zealand Parliament yesterday (5 May 2020).

Minister of Immigration Ian Lees-Galloway said “The Immigration (COVID-19 Response) Amendment Bill presents a pragmatic solution to practical challenges arising from the COVID-19 Pandemic for migrants in New Zealand and the New Zealand Government”.

“One of the practical challenges is to quickly manage visa changes for large numbers of migrants who are unable to leave New Zealand due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

What does this Bill allow the government to do?

The Bill will give the government eight time-limited powers:

  • to impose, vary or cancel conditions for classes of temporary entry class visa holders
  • vary or cancel conditions for classes of resident class visa holders
  • extend the expiry dates of visas for classes of people
  • grant visas to individuals and classes of people in the absence of an application
  • waive any regulatory requirements for certain classes of application
  • waive the requirement to obtain a transit visa
  • suspend the ability to make applications for visas or submit Expressions of Interest in applying for visas by classes of people
  • revoke the entry permission of people who arrive either on private aircraft or marine vessels (to align them with people who arrive on commercial flights, who can already be refused entry).

It is proposed that these powers will expire twelve months after enactment.

The Bill comes into force after the date on which it received the Royal assent. Currently the Bill is at the Select Committee stage and you can read more on the New Zealand parliament website.

Arno Nothnagel, our Immigration Director for New Zealand, is watching the Bill be debated in parliament today and we will bring you updates as we receive them. Subscribe to receive email updated from us to ensure you hear the news as it comes out.

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