Immigration New Zealand today released information about interim measures to assist essential workers during the Covid -19- response.  INZ will relax visa conditions for lockdown levels 4 and 3 and for six weeks thereafter.

Note that these measures do not apply to holders of essential skills work visas but rather to workers employed by businesses providing essential services as per MBIE’s website.

If you are a worker with an employer specific work visa (ie essential skills work visa or work to residence work visa) AND you work in a business that provides essential skills then:

  • your employer will be able to vary your hours or change your role within your current workplace.
  • Work visa holders in a specific occupation (eg dairy farm worker or care giver) can also change employers to perform their current role, however we are still awaiting clarity on whether essential workers are allowed to move between regions.
  • Any amendment to the employee’s conditions of work must still be compliant with normal NZ employment law.

Effectively what this means is that for the short term, some work visa holders will be able to move into new employment situations without the need for new visas or variations of conditions.

The methodology on how this will work on a practical level will be released soon.  Please contact us if you need assistance.

Other information is that the borders are effectively closed to ALL temporary work visa holders who left New Zealand on holiday or who had not yet entered New Zealand and who are not health workers.  If you are  currently offshore it is likely that you will not be able to enter New Zealand until there is a relaxation of border conditions.  There are mechanisms for applying for such dispensation, but the current exemptions are for exceptional circumstances only.

Immigration New Zealand is changing its policies rapidly to keep up with Covid-19 response changes.  It is important that you keep updated on these changes.


Vanessa Sharratt

Director and Licensed Immigration Adviser