COVID-19: Key updates

Temporary border measures, visas, travel and essential service support.

On this page:

Some critical healthcare workers can now stay for 4 years before stand down

Travel to New Zealand

Latest exceptions

Epidemic management notice information

Your visa status if you are in New Zealand

Visa processing information

New powers to amend and extend visas

Visa changes for supermarket employees during Alert Level 3 or 4

Healthcare sector

Temporary postponement of visa programmes

Transiting New Zealand from 20 June 2020


Some critical healthcare workers can now stay for 4 years before stand down

Some critical healthcare workers who earn below the New Zealand median wage can now stay in New Zealand for 4 years before being subject to a stand down period.

A stand down period means you need to leave New Zealand for 12 months before you can apply for another Essential Skills visa for a job paying below the median wage.

Travel to New Zealand 

New Zealand’s border is closed to most travellers and entry is strictly controlled. All arrivals are tested for COVID-19 and a 14-day managed quarantine or isolation is mandatory. 

Managed isolation and quarantine

New Zealand citizens, permanent residents and residents with valid travel conditions returning to New Zealand do not need approval from Immigration New Zealand before travelling. 

Temporary entry and resident visa holders must follow health instructions in New Zealand

Everyone in New Zealand is required to follow health instructions that are in place relating to COVID-19.

Any new resident and temporary visas granted are now subject to a specific visa condition requiring them to comply with:

  • any order made under section 11 of the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020, and
  • any order made under section 70 of the Health Act 1956 and listed in schedule 2 of the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020, and
  • any instruction from a Medical Officer of Health which relates to a notifiable or quarantinable disease. 

This includes Australian citizens and permanent residents of Australia, who are granted resident visas on arrival in New Zealand, regardless of their intended length of stay.

If you do not comply with these requirements, you may be liable for detention or deportation for breaching the conditions of your visa.

The Ministry of Health in New Zealand provides details on any orders or instructions that may be in place. These could include: quarantine on arrival, self-isolation if you are unwell, and infection control methods such as limits on gatherings or contact tracing.

Ministry of Health

Latest exceptions

Partners and dependants of New Zealand citizens and residents who normally live in New Zealand or hold a visa on the basis of their relationship will no longer need to travel with their New Zealand citizen or resident family member to be granted an exception to the border closure. 

Other new exceptions: 

  • extending the current exception for diplomats to include those taking up new posts in New Zealand
  • new criteria for other critical workers — previously called essential workers.

Border restrictions: who can enter New Zealand or request to travel

New forms and fees for border exceptions

On 10 August 2020, Immigration New Zealand changed the application process for individuals who have been invited to apply for a critical purpose visa following a successful expression of interest for a border exception.

You will no longer be able to apply for a visa using the form that was sent when you were invited to apply. Instead, you will need to submit your application using the online form available on Immigration New Zealand’s website.

If you have been invited to apply for a Critical Purpose Visitor Visa, submit your application using the online form. The form will ask you what type of visitor visa you are applying for. Select Special Category Visitor Visa, then Critical Purpose Visitor Visa.

Apply for a Critical Purpose Visitor Visa

If you have been invited to apply for a Critical Purpose Variation of Conditions, use the online application form.

Critical Purpose Variation of Conditions application

If you have any questions about using the online forms, you can call our contact centre.

Contact us

From 10 August 2020, most applicants will be charged a fee to apply for a Critical Purpose Visitor Visa or Critical Purpose Variation of Conditions. The fee for the Critical Purpose Visitor Visa depends on your country of citizenship and where you are now. The fee for a Critical Purpose Variation of Conditions is NZD $190 for all applicants.

Fees, decision times and where to apply

Epidemic management notice information

The New Zealand Government’s Epidemic Management Notice relating to immigration matters came into in effect from Thursday 2 April 2020. The Epidemic Management Notice provision to extend visas was used as the ability to lodge and process visas were limited during the lockdown period in New Zealand.

The notice was changed on 24 June 2020 as visa lodgment and processing has now resumed.

Extensions already applied by the original Epidemic Management Notice are not affected by these changes. 

Epidemic Management Notice information

Your visa status if you are in New Zealand

You are responsible for understanding how to meet the conditions of your visa in New Zealand at all times. 

If you were in New Zealand on 10 July and you hold an employer-assisted work visa

If you are in New Zealand and hold an employer-assisted temporary work visa due to expire before 31 December 2020, it may be extended for 6 months. This includes:

  • some visas due to expire after 9 July
  • visas previously extended to 25 September under the Epidemic Management Notice.

An employer-assisted temporary work visa includes:

  • Essential Skills
  • Work to Residence
  • Special and Skilled work visas for China, Indonesia, South Korea, Philippines and Vietnam
  • Special category work visas for Japanese Interpreters and Thai Chefs
  • Work visas granted under section 61 of the Immigration Act 2009 that specify an employer.

All your other original visa conditions stay the same, including your job title and location. If the conditions of your employment have changed or your employment has ended, you will need to apply for a variation of conditions or a new visa.

You (or your advisor if they are listed as your contact) will have received an email confirming your visa extension.

Short term changes to NZ temporary work visas

Partners and dependents of these employer-assisted work visa holders will now also have their visas extended, provided their visas would have expired between 17 August and 31 December 2020. 

These changes are currently being implemented and visa holders or their advisors will receive an email from Immigration New Zealand confirming the visa extension shortly.

Work visa extension aligned for partners and dependants

Visitor visas

Most Visitor visas due to expire between 4 September and 31 October are being extended by 5 months from their date of expiry.

Helping study for children and adults on visitor visas

If you were in New Zealand on 2 April and your visa expired before 9 July

Holders of a work, student, visitor, limited or interim visa with an expiry date of 2 April to 9 July 2020 inclusive who were in New Zealand on 2 April 2020 had their visas extended to 25 September 2020. This was under the original Epidemic Management Notice. Confirmation is emailed to all visa holders. 

Visa verification service

If your visa expires after 9 July and you are in New Zealand

If you hold an open work, student, visitor, limited or interim visa with an expiry date after 9 July, your visa was not extended by the Epidemic Management Notice or the change announced on 7 July 2020. Your current visa expiry remains the same. You need to:

  • leave the country before your visa expires, or
  • make an application for a new visa.

This includes partners or dependent children who hold a visa based on the relationship with an employer-assisted work visa holder, where the visa would have expired on or after 17 August 2020.

Information on making a new visa application can be found here on this website.

COVID-19 short-term visitor visa

Temporary visa holders in New Zealand can now apply for the new COVID-19 short-term visitor visa. You will need to pay a fee when applying. You can apply more than once.

Applicants must show they:

  • hold a valid passport
  • abide by laws and are of good character
  • have a genuine reason for remaining in New Zealand
  • cannot leave New Zealand now but will make plans to leave at the end of their stay.

Temporary migrants do not need to show they have:

  • enough money to support their stay in New Zealand
  • existing onward travel arrangements
  • good health
  • met any time-limits for how long they are able to stay in New Zealand on a visitor visa.

COVID-19 Short-term Visitor visa

If you are in New Zealand and your visa has expired

If you do not have a current visa or are unable to apply for a visa before your current one expires, you will be unlawful in New Zealand. This includes people whose visa expired before 1 April 2020.

You cannot apply for another visa in New Zealand while you are unlawful. You can either:

  • leave the country immediately if possible, or
  • make a request for a special temporary or resident visa under Section 61 of the Immigration Act.

Making a Section 61 request if you are unlawful

Visa processing information

Our offices in New Zealand and Apia in Samoa are open. Our other offices overseas remain closed. 


Visa holders must follow health instructions in New Zealand or you can be detained and deported.

Visa applications from overseas

We will process relationship-based visas for partners and dependent children of New Zealand citizens and residents. Relationship-based visas are: 

  • Culturally Arranged Marriage Visitor Visa
  • Partner of a New Zealander Visitor Visa
  • Partner of a New Zealander Work Visa
  • Partner of a New Zealander Resident Visa
  • Child of a New Zealander Visitor Visa
  • Dependent Child Student Visa
  • Dependent Child Resident Visa
  • Adoption Visitor Visa
  • Adoption Pre-citizenship Visitor Visa

Those granted a visa are exempt from border restrictions.

This does not include General Visitor Visa applications made on the basis of a relationship which does not meet immigration partnership requirements.

From early October, Australian citizens or citizens of visa waiver countries living outside New Zealand, but who are partners of New Zealand citizens and residents, may be granted an exception to travel to New Zealand. They need to apply for a Critical Purpose Visitor visa.

Critical Purpose Visitor visa

List of visa waiver countries and territories

Applicants from visa waiver countries, who have previously submitted a relationship-based work or visitor visa, do not need to apply for a Critical Purpose Visitor Visa. INZ can now resume processing the relationship-based visa application.

NZeTAs are valid for two years.

Temporary visa applications

The following offshore temporary entry class visa applications can still be made:

  • relationship-based visas for partners and dependent children of New Zealand citizens and residents
  • visas for diplomatic, consular and official staff and accompanying dependants
  • Antarctic Traveller Visitor visas and Antarctic Work visas critical workers to support the Government response to COVID-19
  • Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) Limited visas.

People outside of New Zealand will not be able to make new applications for other temporary visas from 10 August to 10 November 2020.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply online for eligible visas as paper applications can take longer to process.

Refugee Family Support Resident visa applications

The deadline for submitting residence visa applications under the Refugee Family Support Category (RFSC) has been extended for some applicants.

If we notified your sponsor between 1 March 2019 and 19 March 2020 that their registration was successful, you can submit your application within 24 months from the date on your sponsor’s notification letter.

Refugee Family Support Category application deadline | Migrant and refugee information

New powers to amend and extend visas

The Government has passed legislation to support the management of visa changes during COVID-19. For a period of 12 months the Government will be able to amend and extend visa conditions for large groups of people and enable visa processing to be staggered.

Minister's statement |

Visa changes for supermarket employees during Alert Level 3 or 4

Visa restrictions have been relaxed for some visa holders to work in supermarkets when a region is in Alert Level 3 or 4, from 20 August 2020 to 31 July 2021. These changes have been made as supermarkets are facing immediate labour supply issues during COVID-19 and to meet the increased demand for shelf re-stocking.

These changes apply to specified visa holders who are employed by a supermarket on the day before the region enters Alert Level 3 or 4:

  • Temporary work visa holders employed in a supermarket can work in addition to the conditions specified on their visa
  • Students can work more than the maximum of 20 hours per week provided they continue to meet their study requirements.

This includes interim visa holders if they held a temporary work or student visa immediately prior to that visa.

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.

Aany change to an employee’s conditions of work must comply with normal New Zealand employment law and the individual or collective employment agreement relevant to the employee.Healthcare sector

Visa applications will be prioritised for key roles necessary for the health response in New Zealand.

As a temporary measure, the Government has also changed temporary work visa conditions to allow some lower skilled temporary healthcare workers that are currently in New Zealand to work in New Zealand for an additional 12 months before they are subject to the stand down period. This will allow those health workers with lower skilled Essential Skills visas who have worked in New Zealand for 3 years an additional 12 months before they are subject to a stand down period where they must leave New Zealand.

This will provide additional certainty for those impacted, some of whom will be affected by the first stand down period from 28 August 2020, and it will also help maintain existing workforces at this critical time.

Essential Health Workers information

More student visa holder information

Temporary postponement of visa programmes

The Government has decided to postpone:

  • selections for Expressions of Interest (EOI) in the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) and the Parent Category
  • ballot registrations for the Samoan Quota (SQ) and Pacific Access Category (PAC).

Nineteen capped Working Holiday schemes that were scheduled to open have also been postponed until further notice.

This affects the following countries and territories:
Argentina, Austria, Brazil, China, Croatia, Estonia, Hong Kong, Hungary, Luxembourg, Malta, Peru, Slovenia, Spain, Slovakia, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, and Vietnam.

When these schemes reopen, Working Holiday visa holders will be able to travel to New Zealand for the full duration of their working holiday visa.

We will update the INZ website as we are able to provide more information.

Transiting New Zealand

You must meet the transit requirements for the passport you are travelling on as special transit rules ended on 19 June 2020.

From Sunday 23 August, normal 24 hour transit rules apply.


New Zealand Alert Level and transit rules can change quickly so it is your responsibility to make sure you can transit through New Zealand and enter any country on your journey. If you are unable to do this, you may not be allowed to board the plane.

Transit passengers information

Further information

Ministry of Health guidance | COVID-19

0800 358 5453 | Healthline

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak | World Health Organization (WHO)

Contact us

Immigration Contact Centre is currently experiencing extremely high call volumes and you may face an extended delay in your call being answered.

Urgent immigration queries only:

+64 9 952 1679 | outside New Zealand

0508 225 288 | within New Zealand