NEW ZEALAND – Recent Immigration Updates
Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has recently implemented several changes to immigration rules and procedures.
Partners and dependent children can now make their visa applications online; the minimum income threshold has been updated for those sponsoring dependents in several categories, including certain Essential Skills visa holders; and INZ will no longer place physical visa labels in passports.
Online visa applications for dependents
Effective immediately, partners or dependent children will be able to apply online for a visitor, student, work or resident visa based on the immigration status of another family member (supporting person).
The supporting person must be either:
• a New Zealand citizen; or
• a New Zealand visa holder (resident, work or student); or
• a visa applicant.
Applications can now be submitted as a family group together with the principal applicant; applicants can upload documents to a portal instead of sending in original documents, and processing times should be faster.
Minimum income thresholds
Immigration New Zealand adjusts minimum income requirements every year to ensure visa holders have enough income to support themselves and their family while in New Zealand. Currently, the following minimum salaries are in place:
• Samoan Quota Scheme and Pacific Access Category residence visa applicants will need to earn at least NZD 38,199.20 if they have partners or dependent children;
• Parents applying under the Tier 1 Parent Category, who are relying on the lifetime minimum income criteria will need to show at least $28,166 for a single applicant or $41,494 as a couple; and
• The minimum income requirement for Essential Skills and Religious Worker work visa holders whose dependent children are in New Zealand increased to NZD 42,944.20.
• The above income threshold is different from the skill-band remuneration rates for Essential Skills work visas;
• Where both parents hold Essential Skills visas, their income can be combined to meet this level; and
• For children of Religious Worker visa holders, the income of both parents can be combined to meet this level.
No more visa labels
Effective 4 July 2018, physical visa labels will no longer be issued by Immigration New Zealand (INZ), unless specifically requested by an applicant, and after a fee is paid.
eVisas will now be issued and will need to be printed out and carried with the physical passport when travelling internationally. eVisas can be used immediately after issue, and physical passports no longer need to be sent in for label endorsement.
The only exception is for students using Provider Direct. INZ will review the use of labels for Provider Direct over the next year.
Visa holders can authorize other people or organizations, including health care providers and travel agents, to verify their visa details, via the Visa Verification Service. Employers and education providers can verify visa details with VisaView.
Employers intending to sponsor foreign nationals for visas in New Zealand should check with their immigration advisor at McCown & Evans LLP regarding how these recent changes may affect them.