New immigration law changes: what do they really mean?

Many visa holders in Queenstown have drastically felt the effects of Covid-19 with cuts to hours and redundancies with inabilities to access the wage subsidy or WINZ benefits.  However, many people will have heard of the new immigration law changes coming into force providing a glimpse of hope for so many.  So what are these changes and will they have any effect on you or your visa?

What are the new laws?

The new rules will give the Immigration Minister 8 additional powers for the next 12 months only.  These new powers will allow the Immigration Minister to make changes to migrant’s visas by special direction to class visa types.

So what does this mean, practically speaking? Basically, the Immigration Minister will be able to make changes to visas in bulk and fast.  These changes could involve imposing, varying or removing conditions on migrant’s visas, waiving certain application requirements such as application fees or waiving the requirement for an application to be submitted entirely and some additional changes such as extending visa expiry dates (similarly to the extension put in place for all Temporary Visa Holders until 25 September 2020).

What will this mean for you?

These changes will likely heavily affect Essential Skill Work Visa and Student Visa holders more than others.  These two visa types are heavily restricted with conditions which have proven to be very difficult for the visa holders to comply with the conditions in the last 2 months.  Therefore, new laws will allow the Immigration Minister to make changes to the visa conditions for all Temporary Work Visa holders collectively rather than having each holder having to submit a Variation of Conditions application or a new Work Visa application.  This could possibly mean removing the condition of having to work for a specific employer for example.

Additionally, if you maintain a Resident Class Visa and have been stuck outside of New Zealand and your travel conditions have lapsed, the new laws could assist in you not losing your Resident Class Visa (an error a lot of people get stuck with). 

When will these changes come into force?

The new rules will likely to come into force on the 15 May 2015.  From there, the Immigration Minister will be able to introduce these changes.  Any changes will be released on Immigration New Zealand’s website detailing what the changes will actually involve and who will be affected.  Therefore, the best thing to do is to keep an eye out for these changes on Immigration New Zealand’s website: https://www.immigration.govt.nz/about-us/media-centre.

If you would like to read the Immigration (COVID-19 Response) Amendment Bill you can find the document on the New Zealand legislation website: http://www.legislation.govt.nz/bill/government/2020/0243/latest/LMS342875.html.

We will additionally provide further details and updates on any further changes.

 

Chantal Ryan

CHANTAL RYAN

SOLICITOR

 

PHONE: +64 034500424
EMAIL: chantal.ryan@awslegal.com