Parliament’s pragmatic changes to immigration act to respond to Covid-19 has passed.
Parliament has passed a legislation to ensure that the government can respond to immigration concerns arising from Covid-19 quickly and efficiently.
The Minister for Immigration, Iain Lees-Galloway stated:
“The Immigration (COVID-19 Response) Amendment Bill 2020 allows us to amend the Act so we have the necessary flexibility and efficiency to address the unprecedented challenge of managing large numbers of migrants who are practically unable to leave New Zealand due to the COVID-19 pandemic, or who live in New Zealand but are offshore and are facing difficulty returning,”
In addition, the government has stated that they have worked hard to ensure that this Act has the appropriate safeguards in palace and that it tis fit for purpose. This direct address to migrants living in New Zealand may come as relief for many who are facing the pressures of the unknown and the burden of uncertainty.
The Bill Introduces eight time-limited powers for a period of 12 months. These powers are as follows:
- to impose, vary or cancel conditions for classes of temporary entry class visa holders
- vary or cancel conditions for classes of resident class visa holders
- extend the expiry dates of visas for classes of people
- grant visas to individuals or classes of people in the absence of an application
- waive any regulatory requirements for certain classes of application (that is, waive any prescribed requirements that people need to fulfil to have their application accepted by INZ for assessment).
- waive the requirement to obtain a transit visa
- suspend the ability to make applications for visas or submit Expressions of Interest in applying for visas by classes of people who are offshore
- revoke the entry permission of people who are deemed to have been granted entry permission.
There are around 350,000 temporary visa holders in New Zealand
Over 200,000 have work visas whose visa conditions need to be varied in response to Covid -19 . Over 70,000 are student visas holders whose visas conditions may need to be changed or relaxed to enable them to change their course or work hours until education providers are able to fully re-open. 56,000 or more are on visitor visas who may need to have their expiry dates extended if flights out of New Zealand continue to be unavailable.
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