New Zealand Covid-19 Update

The Auckland region joined the rest of New Zealand at Alert Level 1 at 11:59 pm on Wednesday 7 October.

Covid-19 – Current Cases in New Zealand – As at 9 am on 27 November 2020

  • There are currently 66 active cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand
  • There were Seven new confirmed cases of Covid-19 being reported on 27 November 2020.
  • 1956 patients (96%) have recovered and 25 people have deceased
  • 67% of confirmed and probable cases are related to overseas travel or close contacts of those who have travelled, and 33% were locally acquired
  • A total of 1, 260, 055 tests have been conducted since 22 January 2020.

The New Zealand government have released various policies in correspondence to the Covid-19 pandemic and to protect the health, safety and national interests of citizens, residents and temporary entry class visa holders.

Temporary class visa holders affected by the coronavirus outbreak

  • Holders of a work, student, visitor, limited or interim visa with an expiry date of 2 April to 9 July 2020 inclusive who are in New Zealand on 2 April 2020 would have their visas automatically extended to 25 September 2020. All visa holders should have received confirmation of extensions from Immigration New Zealand.

Visa Processing Information

  • Immigration New Zealand offices in New Zealand and Apia in Samoa are open. Other offices overseas remain closed.
  • INZ has suspended most temporary entry class visa applications from offshore applicants for three months, effectively from 10 August.
  • INZ has increased its visa processing capacity to access immigration offices onshore. Only applications from applicants who are onshore will be processed.
  • Priority will be given to applications for critical workers and for other temporary visa applicants that are in New Zealand.
  • Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply online for eligible visas as paper applications will take longer to process because of the reduced capacity of staff in onshore offices

Visa condition changes for student visa holders working in supermarkets during Alert Level 3 or 4 

  • Student visa holders who were employed in by supermarkets are allowed to more than 20 hours per week when a region is in Alert Level 3 or Level 4, from 20 August 2020 to 31 July 2021.
  • Supermarkets mean those operated by:
    • Woolworths New Zealand – owners of Countdown, Super Value and FreshChoice supermarkets
    • Foodstuffs Limited – owners of New World, Pak n Save and Four Square.

Wage Subsidy Scheme for businesses and workers including international students

  • The New Zealand government released its Wage Subsidy Scheme to financial support New Zealand employers and workers who are adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. For a 12-week period, qualified employers will receive $585.80 (gross) per week for employees working for 20 hours or more weekly, or $350.00 (gross) per week for employees working for less than 20 hours weekly.
  • The full amount received by employers must be passed on to employees. If an international student was under employment prior to the national lockdown, he or she might be eligible to receive the subsidised wage if meeting requirements. Click the above link to know more about the requirements and scenarios.
  • A further 8 weeks subsidy has been extended to businesses significantly impacted by COVID-19.
  • A further 2 weeks subsidy has been extended to businesses because of the new coronavirus outbreak in Auckland.
  • Employees can make a complaint against their employers fi their employers are receiving wage subsidy but the employees are not paid accordingly.

Financial Support for International Students

  • The New Zealand government has established a one million hardship fund to support international students who suffer financial hardship due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Applications must be submitted by education providers and organisations such as peak bodies and community groups. Individual international students and education agents may not eligible to submit an application.
  • The application has been closed as the one million funds have been allocated with approximate 11,000 international students.

Hardship Support for Foreign Nationals

  • The New Zealand government has announced a $37.6 million programme to support foreign nationals, including international students who suffer financial hardship
  • New Zealand Red Cross has been contracted to deliver assistance to foreign nationals.
  • Details can be found here

Border Closures and Travel restrictions into New Zealand

The New Zealand Government closed its border for almost travellers except for New Zealand Citizens and residence visa holders from 23:59 on Thursday 19 March 2020.

Therefore, student visa holders can no longer enter New Zealand until further notice. However, students are expected to study online or remotely. International students should contact their education providers to discuss their learning arrangements.

The Minister of Education announced that the government is looking to reopen the border to enable international students to return to New Zealand to continue with their studies. However, the Minister has confirmed that international students are not able to come to New Zealand in 2020 except for small cohorts of students.

Limited exceptions will be made to a small group of people who receive approval to travel to New Zealand, includes but not limited to

  • Partners, dependent children (aged 19 years or under) or legal guardians of New Zealand citizens or residents who do not hold a visa based on their relationship and either:
    • are travelling with their New Zealand citizen or resident family member, or
    • ordinarily reside in New Zealand.
  • Australian citizens and permanent resident who normally live in New Zealand
  • Critical health workers
  • Others

The request to travel to New Zealand must use the Online Exception Request Form.

Student visa holders overseas – Deferred study

For international students who are granted student visas but could not travel to New Zealand due to the border closure, if they have deferred their study to later in the year or early 2021, their visas will remain valid over this period and their education providers should notify INZ. Their file will be updated with this information and their visa remains valid and their visa travel conditions still apply.

Compulsory isolation requirements for arrivals into New Zealand

  • Prior to 23:59 New Zealand Time on Thursday 9 April 2020, People who are allowed to enter New Zealand are required to register with Healthline on 0800 358 5453 and self-isolate for 14 days when arriving in New Zealand.
  • After 23:59 New Zealand Time on Thursday 9 April 2020, anyone who enters New Zealand, including New Zealand citizens and residence class visa holders, will no longer be able to complete their 14-day isolation period at home. Arrivals assessed as high-risk of COVID-19 will be placed in quarantine facilities, while all other arrivals will be placed in managed isolation facilities.
  • The government has decided to charge fees for compulsory isolation and quarantine for people entering New Zealand.

Repatriation for foreign nationals including international students

Although New Zealand is in national lockdown, foreign nationals such as international students and tourists are allowed to use private or public transport to travel to Auckland or Christchurch airport to connect with commercial, or chartered, international flights to their home country. Travellers must meet several criteria as well as health standards before departure.

Useful links for keeping you updated with the news and changes of Covid-19

New Zealand Healthline for COVID-19: 0800 358 5453