All but essential N.Z. visas on hold

New Zealand's immigration services will only be processing essential visa applications amid the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, local authorities warned on Tuesday. 

The announcement of a slowdown in future processing was made on the New Zealand High Commission in Samoa Facebook page.

“Due to the global effects of the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic — and with international travel severely restricted for the foreseeable future — Immigration New Zealand will only be processing essential visa applications related to COVID-19, at this time,” a statement said.

The High Commission also added that as a consequence of the changes to processing, certain visa schemes have been suspended until further notice.

“The visa schemes on hold include: [the] Pacifica Access Category; [the] Samoa Quota (SQ) ballot; Working Holiday Schemes; Expressions of Interest (E.O.I.) in the Skilled Migrant Category (S.M.C.) and the Parent Category.

“This is a temporary measure and will not affect the total number of people who may be eligible under these schemes when they are able to be re-opened.”

Holders of a work, student, visitor, limited or interim visa with an expiry date of between 2 April to 9 July 2020 inclusive who were in New Zealand on 2 April 2020 will have their visas automatically extended to 25 September 2020. 

“Confirmation of extensions will be emailed to all visa holders,” read the notice.

Immigration authorities also added that if the visa has been extended visa holders should have received a confirmation email from Immigration New Zealand.

“We suggest you confirm your visa expiry date by checking the Visa Verification Service on our website," their statement said. 

New Zealand continues to close its borders to almost all travellers to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

The travel ban applies to all arrivals into New Zealand whether it is by air or sea.

New Zealand citizens and residents may return to New Zealand.

There are a limited number of exceptions for other travelers who should seek approval from Immigration New Zealand before travelling.


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