– 21 June 2020
This Act is a piece of legislation designed to give the Government emergency powers during the COVID-19 situation. The Act gives the Government a lot of power, so that it can quickly and immediately make big changes to New Zealand’s immigration policies. The idea is that this will allow the Government to remain flexible enough to respond to any changes to the state of COVID-19. However, there are some concerns that these powers are too broad and could potentially be misused to affect migrants in New Zealand and unfairly take their visas away from them. In response to this concern, the Minister of Immigration has promised that the Government will not be using the Act to take away any existing visa rights. In particular, the new powers cannot be used to change visa conditions in a way that would create a real disadvantage for a class of visa holders. This will help prevent cases like whole class of migrants suddenly being rendered unable to work.
There are 8 time-limited powers under the Act. These are:
As you can see, these powers are quite generous, and it is worth keeping an eye on how they will be used in the future. They will be used to change visa conditions for groups of people, and in particular they want to stagger out applications to control the number of migrants in New Zealand at one time. It can also be used to prevent people from making applications for visas when they would never be able to enter New Zealand anyway, due to our border closures.
The core of the Act is that it allows for wide sweeping changes to different types or classes of visas at once, that would affect all holders of that visa. For example, the Government might change how many hours per week student visas holders can work for. There are currently around 350,000 temporary visa holders in New Zealand and working through them on an individual basis would be far too time consuming. Of these 350,000 migrants:
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We have taken care to ensure that the information given is accurate, however it is intended for general guidance only and should not be relied upon in individual cases. Professional advice should be always be sought before any decision or action is taken as Immigration New Zealand’s instructions change on a regular basis.