The Government has released its plans to re-open New Zealand’s borders amidst increasing pressure and criticism for effectively locking New Zealanders out of their own country.
The announcement promises to put an end to almost two years of uncertainty for many since the sudden and unprecedented closure in March 2020.
While the final details of the process are yet to be released, the Government has confirmed that the reopening will occur in five distinct steps over the following 9 months.
We have summarized our understanding of these stages below however we encourage readers to reach out to us if you require specific and tailored advice on any aspect including how to bring your employee or your loved one to New Zealand.
From 11.59 pm, 27 February 2022, full vaccinated New Zealand citizens and residents, and travelers who are eligible under the current border settings, will be able to enter New Zealand from Australia, and self-isolate upon arrival without having to go through the MIQ system.
From 11.59 pm, 13 March 2022, fully vaccinated New Zealand citizens, residents, eligible travelers, skilled workers earning at least 1.5 times the median wage, travelers on a working holiday scheme and partners/dependent children of New Zealand citizens and residents (provided they meet the usual visa and vaccination requirements), can enter New Zealand from anywhere in the world and self-isolate upon arrival.
From 11.59 pm 12 April 2022, fully vaccinated people from anywhere in the world can enter New Zealand and self-isolate upon arrival. This includes:
- people who currently hold a valid visa but are stuck offshore, provided they still meet their visa requirements; and
- up to 5000 international students intending to commence study in Semester 2.
From July 2022, all travelers from Australia, visitors from countries who do not need a visa (i.e., visa waiver visitors) and travelers arriving under the Accredited Employer Work visa categories, will be able to enter New Zealand.
From October 2022, all visa categories will reopen including visitor and student visas therefore normal immigration processing is planned to restart.
Some Things to Note:
- Self-Isolation is only available for fully vaccinated travelers who are eligible to enter New Zealand.
- Unvaccinated travellers, and those who do not meet New Zealand’s vaccination requirements and who are eligible to enter New Zealand will continue to enter through MIQ.
- There will be strict testing requirements pre and post-departure.
We are all aware that the immigration and border settings can change on a whim depending on the pandemic situation at the time. The Government have also indicated that while some changes are to be expected in the coming days/months, at least Steps 1 and 2 are reasonably set in stone and can be relied upon.
As always, the devil will be in the details so please get in touch if you have any questions or require assistance with any aspect of this much-anticipated announcement. We have an experienced immigration team who are able to advise on these changing rules and how they will look for residency and immigration applications.