News centre

Border exception process to be phased out as New Zealand border reopens 8 July 2022

Key dates for the phasing out of border exceptions and a return to business-as-usual visa processing.

The border exception regime and Critical Purpose Visitor Visas (CPVV) were created in response to the border restrictions put in place in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As New Zealand moves towards a fully open border by the end of July, border exceptions are no longer needed as a pathway for people to come to New Zealand.

That is why the Government has decided to phase out border exceptions from the end of July, with the exception of some class exceptions.

Key dates for the phasing out of border exceptions and a return to business-as-usual visa processing will be:

  • 31 July: All main border exception categories and class exceptions will close.
  • 1 September: Primary sector class exceptions will close.
  • Transitional: the Seafood processing workers and Deep-sea fishers class exceptions will remain open until the seafood sector agreements under the Immigration Rebalance are in place (or until the caps are filled)

For the border exceptions closing on 31 July, applicants and employers will have until 11:59pm on 31 July to submit their border exception requests.

Border exception requests received prior to this will continue to be considered and if approved, individuals will be invited to apply for a visa.

While border exceptions are closing at the end of the month, the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) opened for work visa applications on 4 July. As we transition back to a fully open border, individuals who are coming to New Zealand to work can now apply for an AEWV work visa. However, the one-month transition before border exceptions close will help ensure that there is a continuous flow of workers coming to New Zealand during this period.

Invitation to Apply Timeframe

To support the phasing out of border exceptions, the time that individuals who have been issued an Invitation to Apply have to apply for their visa has been reduced from four to two months.

The new ITA timeframe will come into effect today, Friday 8 July. This means that Expressions of Interest submitted on and after 8 July will only have two months to submit their visa application. Expressions of Interest made before 8 July, and those who have already been issued an ITA, will still have the original four months to apply.

Recognised Seasonal Employer Workers

The end of border exceptions means that employers will be able to directly recruit and manage the travel arrangements to bring Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers into New Zealand. During border exceptions, Industry bodies coordinated the recruitment and flight allocation process.

The recruitment process for RSE workers will return to employer-led, as was the case pre-COVID-19, with direct engagement by employers with the Pacific countries to recruit workers and complete visa applications. 

All workers travelling to New Zealand will still be required to meet the RSE Limited visa entry requirements, as well as be fully vaccinated, before arriving in New Zealand. 

Approved classes of workers