Controlled borders in New Zealand – Hurdles for potential new residents

Covid-19 impacted world travel, business, personal hopes and aspirations more significantly than any event over most lifetimes, economically devastating many nations as its potentially fatal grip spread throughout the planet.

After initially avoiding the pandemic, the highly-infectious ‘Delta’ variant ultimately found its way to New Zealand. At the time vaccine supplies were scarce, prompting effective closure of the country’s borders on March 19th 2020 and apart from a short-term “bubble,” established with parts of Australia on March 19th 2021, New Zealand’s borders have remained, tightly controlled.

Is it possible to enter New Zealand?

With very limited exceptions, during the existing course of the country’s lock down, only returning NZ residents and citizens have been permitted to cross the border and even these groups have been subject to a mandatory two-week quarantine in government run facilities (generally controlled hotels). This accommodation offered limited spaces, demand far exceeded supply and as a result, the rate of arrivals became severely restricted.

In recent months however, the country’s vaccination rate has been impressively climbing and this has renewed talk of broader acceptance criteria. Without doubt though, when borders do reopen, only those with proof of double vaccination will be considered entry. This was mandated from November 1st 2021.

Will skilled applicants be considered?

Currently, with limited exceptions, NZ is not accepting applications for work visas.

The country does however, acknowledge a significant shortage of skills in many areas including health care, IT; most engineering disciplines, civil and residential construction plus more. A full list of these skills is displayed on the Immigration New Zealand website

These skills may be considered for exception but places are in high demand, so applicants are urged to respond to advices urgently and comprehensively.

Applicants who can submit qualifications covering post-graduate level academic training from an internationally recognised university, or 10+ years’ managerial experience, will understandably receive preferential consideration.
If in doubt, please contact us at Sellanes Clark. We would be happy to assist you with an appropriate assessment which may help you to move forward.

When available, what work visas will be likely accepted in NZ?

Once restrictions ease, there is likely to be a variety of work visas available for New Zealand.

For consideration, applicants will generally require an offer of full time (30 hours or more) employment, put forward by a NZ employer and paid at a market rate wage. Applicants will be required to demonstrate that, through education or work experience, they hold the qualifications to do the work on offer.

For certain Work Visas, employers may have to prove that, despite local advertising, they have been unable to secure a suitable resident or citizen for the offered position; a requirement designed to illustrate labour market gaps and to ensure that no employment is being taken away from New Zealand residents or citizens.

All Work Visa applicants will be required to satisfy the country’s prescribed health and character requirements, submit to a medical examination at an approved Immigration New Zealand medical centre (located in most countries) and provide a Police Clearance for every country in which they have lived and/or worked.

Pathway for skilled worker migration to New Zealand

Although currently closed due to the pandemic, the process works as follows:

The Skilled Migrant Residency Visa operates on a points-based system, which requires a minimum of 160 points (based upon age, education, employment and other factors) prior to lodgement of application. Points accrue in varying components and once the minimum level is achieved, the aspiring residency applicant may lodge an “Expression of Interest” (EOI) to Residency New Zealand, who will review to ensure consistency with all other residency requirements.

Applicants may then be invited to apply for Residency.

Investor opportunities, through a select pathway

As with many countries, significant investment has the ability to provide its own pathway to residency; a pathway which has remained open throughout the pandemic.

Applicants who are ready to invest between $3 million – $10 million New Zealand dollars in a NZ enterprise and who offer skills which the country needs may be asked to apply for a Residence visa. Furthermore, should the applicant’s potential investment exceed the $10 million guideline, the offer of a Residence visa, through ‘Investor 1’ category would be likely, irrespective of skills.

Consider the options and be prepared

We live in a constantly changing world; today’s delays swiftly become tomorrow’s fleeting opportunities, so the time is ripe to formulate decisions and prepare.

At Sellanes Clark, we are always ready to help. We understand the complexities of evolving immigration issues and we recognise the many advantages of prompt action.

For more information on this or on any relating issues, contact the friendly migration experts at Sellanes Clark Law Firm – specialising in all immigration law matters.

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