Immigration Act amendment as a result of COVID-19

11 May 2020

A Bill to give Immigration New Zealand more flexibility during the COVID-19 response and recovery was introduced into Parliament on 5 May.

The amendment only lasts for 12 months and then Immigration NZ will go back to business as usual.

Click here to view the table of proposed powers.

The Bill reflects many of the issues that we have been raising with Immigration NZ, in particular:

  • Varying and cancelling visa conditions – e.g. to allow workers to be redeployed to a different employer or location
  • Waiving fees and other application requirements
  • Extending visas for visitors and temporary workers in New Zealand
  • Rather than refunding visa fees for people who cannot at present get to New Zealand, to extend the expiry dates for those visas.

Submissions made to the Committee on the Bill included:

  • Recommending industry is involved in Immigration’s decision-making process when exercising these new powers
  • Amending the Bill to include as one of its purposes, economic recovery – i.e. growth and investment
  • Recognition of the importance of seasonal labour for the continued prosperity of horticulture – i.e. growth and investment
  • Recognition of the importance of the RSE scheme as an integral part of seasonal labour, and the need to continue and expand the scheme, noting that a balance can be achieved between RSE workers and New Zealanders while also noting that an absence of backpackers will mean there are many more jobs available
  • The RSE scheme enables industry growth at this critical time and the employment of New Zealanders into permanent positions.