INZ Announces changes to processing priorities
NZ has today revised the order in which applications will be prioritised for processing.
While we have included the full policy release below for reference, it can be summarised as follows:
- All things COVID-19 related will continue to take priority, which will include applications for those working in essential services, and those considered to be at risk or who have humanitarian circumstances.
- This is followed by those visa applications that are unaffected by the government response to COVID-19 and the wider ramifications of that (e.g. unemployment and the effect that will have on the labour market), in that applicants would be eligible for the visa applied for regardless.
- Third priority will be given to all other work, student and variation applications which will include essential skills work visa applications for those not working in an essential service, and to permanent resident and second and subsequent resident class visas (which are not a priority given international travel is at a minimum at present and so resident class visas are not at risk of lapsing).
- Lowest priority is afforded to all remaining temporary entry visa applications and residence applications.
While this news will be particularly concerning to those with residence applications lodged, we urge those people not to lose sight of the fact that this is a temporary measure that can be expected to only really be in play for a relatively short period of time. Once the immediate applications relating to the COVID-19 response are processed, and INZ can resume normal operations once more, it is reasonable to anticipate that the processing of those other applications will resume in an equally normal fashion.
A16.1 General Instructions as to the order and manner of processing residence applications
Pursuant to section 26(4) of the Immigration Act 2009 and acting under delegated authority from the Chief Executive of the Ministry of the Business, Innovation, and Employment, I hereby give the following general instructions as to the order of processing of visa applications under Government immigration instructions, effective from 16 April 2020:
a. First priority will be given to the following applications for visas (and requests to vary conditions of an existing visa) in preference to applications or requests from other applicants:
i. Visas (and variations of condition requests) for critical workers to support the Government response to COVID-19:
o Work and visitor visas (and variations of conditions) for essential health workers (onshore and offshore)
o Work visas (and variations of conditions requests) for designated workers in essential sectors (onshore)
o Work visas (and variations of conditions) for designated essential workers (offshore)
o Work visas (and variations of conditions) for workers in essential roles (onshore)
ii. Visa applications (and requests to vary conditions of an existing visa) where there is an urgent humanitarian need:
o Visa applications for victims of domestic violence
o Visitor visas (and variations of conditions) for the following exceptions to the restriction on entry permission: humanitarian cases; Tongan and Samoan citizens making essential travel; immediate family of New Zealand citizens and residents travelling with their New Zealand citizen or resident family member; immediate family of temporary visa holders who normally live in New Zealand;
o Residence class visas for Australian citizens and permanent residents who normally live in NZ.
iii. Applications to travel under the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) travel card programme made by people who are not New Zealand citizens or residence class visa holders.
b. Second priority will be given to visa applications (and requests to vary conditions of an existing visa) from applicants whose ability to meet the requirements to be granted a visa is unlikely to have been affected by the measures in place to prevent the transmission of COVID-19:
i. Student visa for full fee paying students
ii. Work and visitor visas based on partnership to a New Zealand citizen or resident
iii. Work and visitor visas on partnership to a work or student visa holder
iv. Student and visitor visas for the dependent children of work or student visa holders
v. Visitor visas for the dependent children of New Zealand citizens or residents
vi. Work visas under Post-Study work instructions
vii. Diplomatic visa
viii. Military visas
c. Third priority will be given to the following types and categories of applications for visas:
i. Essential skills work visas for workers not designated as essential or working in an essential sector or essential role
ii. All other work visas (onshore)
iii. All other student visas (onshore)
iv. All other variation of conditions requests (onshore and offshore)
v. Work visa applications for asylum seekers
vi. Permanent resident visas
vii. Second or subsequent resident visas
d. Fourth priority will be given to the following types and categories of applications for visas and electronic travel authority:
i. All other temporary entry class visas
ii. All transit visas
iii. All other residence class visas
iv. New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA) requests
e. Within the priorities set out above, applications should generally be processed in lodgement date order.
f. These instructions do not prevent immigration officers according urgency to the processing of any particular residence class visa application when the individual circumstances so warrant that.
g. The previous General Instructions made pursuant to section 26(4) of the Immigration Act 2009 are revoked.