Hundreds of families who were separated by New Zealand’s Covid-related border closure will be reunited under new border exceptions announced yesterday (Monday) by the country’s Immigration Minister, Kris Faafoi.
The Government is introducing border exceptions allowing offshore visa applications for the families of health care workers in New Zealand, as well as a small number of other highly skilled workers in other sectors who are currently in the country.
A new border exception is also being created for the partners and dependent children of temporary visa holders who had not yet arrived when the border closed.
Family member must have 12 months on their visa
To be eligible for the new border exceptions, the family member currently in New Zealand must have more than 12 months remaining on their visa.
“We are in the midst of a global pandemic, which requires strict border restrictions. But we have been mindful of the difficulties migrant workers and families have faced,” the Minister said.
“The Government closed the border to everyone but New Zealand citizens and residents, in order to keep COVID-19 out, keep our economy open and keep New Zealand safe.
“In the past year we have introduced exceptions that have allowed entry for around 13,000 family members of New Zealand citizens, residents and 1,300 temporary work visa holders and their families who normally live here and were overseas when the borders closed. More than 2,500 family members of critical workers have also entered to date.
New border exceptions available from end of April
“These latest exceptions are expected to allow hundreds more migrants to come to New Zealand and join their families,” Faafoi said.
Those who are eligible will be able to request a border exception from the end of this month.
“These changes … are part of Government moves to find safe ways to ease Covid border restrictions and open up New Zealand to post-Covid opportunities. We will be looking at further adjustments in the weeks and months ahead, including work on immigration policy reforms,” Faafoi stated.