World Vision Welcomes Extension For Immigration Pathway For Ukrainians
World Vision welcomes the Government’s move to expand the 2022 Special Ukraine Visa to allow more Ukrainians to re-settle in New Zealand following more than a year of war.
Immigration Minister, Hon. Michael Wood, announced today that applications for the visa would be extended until March 2024, giving people another year to apply to re-settle here.
The criteria for applications will also be widened beyond ‘immediate family’, and Ukrainians can now be sponsored by an “acceptable sponsor” not just a family member, as had previously been the case.
World Vision New Zealand’s Senior Policy and Advocacy Advisor, Dr Lauren Donnan, says the changes will mean New Zealand is a better option for many Ukrainians looking for a safe haven to flee the war.
“We’ve been asking for greater certainty for Ukrainians who are considering New Zealand as a place of safety to take refuge. It is very difficult to uproot your entire life in such a short time frame so we appreciate the Government extending the visa timespan to provide more flexibility and certainty for the Ukrainian community,” she says.
Dr Donnan says the changes to the eligibility criteria will mean that many more Ukrainians may be able to seek safety in New Zealand.
Over the past year, only 569 Ukrainians have settled in New Zealand, despite the fact the visa allows for up to 4,000 to come here.
Dr Donnan says this is partly because the initial visa criteria presented real barriers to sponsors and Ukrainians trying to access the visa.
Under the new rules, each application will have a ‘nominating family member’ who meets the New Zealand and Ukrainian residency requirements, and they can choose to have an ‘acceptable sponsor’ who would take on financial responsibility for the applicant.
“The extension of the criteria to allow people other than close family members to assist with financial support for sponsorship will open the door for many more people so that New Zealand is a real option to escape the violence and terror Ukrainians have been experiencing in their home country.”
Dr Donnan applauds the move to allow for more financial help for Ukrainian refugees but says it’s still incumbent on the Government to do more to support Ukrainians, and other refugees who come to New Zealand, with financial and housing support.
She hopes the Government will look to address this with its New Zealand Refugee Resettlement Strategy refresh project.