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Border Exceptions Will See More Families Reunited

Hon Kris Faafoi

Minister of Immigration

Hundreds more families who were separated by the border closure will be reunited under new border exceptions announced today, Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi 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.

“We have introduced additional exceptions throughout the past year as circumstances permitted, and I’m pleased to announce today we are granting further exemptions that will allow hundreds more families to reunite,” Kris Faafoi said.

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 New Zealand.

A new border exception is also being created for the partners and dependent children of temporary visa holders in New Zealand, who hold visas, but had not yet arrived here when the border closed.

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.

“In the past year, we have introduced exceptions that have allowed entry for around 13,000 family members of New Zealand citizens and residents and 1300 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.

“These latest exceptions are expected to allow hundreds more migrants to come to New Zealand and join their families,” Kris Faafoi said.

Those who are eligible will be able to request a border exception from 30 April 2021.

“These changes, together with the quarantine-free travel arrangements now in place with Australia, are part of government moves to find safe ways to ease COVID border restrictions and open up New Zealand to post-COVID opportunities, and we will be looking at further adjustments in the weeks and months ahead, including work on immigration policy reforms,” Kris Faafoi said.

Detail on new family reunification border exceptions:

We are introducing a border exception for partners and dependent children of temporary visa holders in New Zealand, who hold visas but had not yet arrived in New Zealand when the border closed.

  • Only temporary visa holders who normally live here, but were overseas when the border closed, can currently apply for a border exception.
  • Some families were separated while in the process of moving here, with some family members already here, and the other family members planning to move separately.

We are allowing temporary migrants working in health care in New Zealand to bring their partners and dependent children here.

  • Before borders closed many healthcare workers were able to bring their family with them when they moved to New Zealand. Those arriving now as a “critical healthcare worker” are also able to bring their families.
  • However, a number of health care workers arrived just before or after the border closure, and were not able to bring their family with them at the time.
  • Immigration New Zealand cannot process visas for people offshore, unless they have a border exception, so their families have not been able to apply for a visa and exception to travel here.
  • With this new border exception, those working in New Zealand’s healthcare sector will once again be able to apply for visas to bring their families to New Zealand.

We are providing border exceptions for the partners and dependent children of a very small number of other highly-skilled, non-health care temporary workers. This will allow skilled workers, who could come in with their families as a “critical worker” if they were outside New Zealand, to bring their families to join them without having to leave the country.

  • This limited exception will ensure we can continue to retain highly-skilled temporary workers necessary for New Zealand’s economic recovery.
  • It will address the concern that some temporary workers are choosing to leave the country to collect their family and re-enter with them, by allowing workers to bring their family to New Zealand without having to leave themselves.
  • We continuously review our border exceptions, and we may consider further family exceptions at a later date, depending on MIQ demand.

To be eligible for the new family reunification border exceptions, their family member(s) in New Zealand must have more than 12 months remaining on their visa. The normal visa and managed isolation requirements apply.

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