05 May 2020 – Government to temporarily amend immigration law to allow for via flexibility

Type of Intervention: Regulation
Sectors Involved: Immigration
Intervention Categories: International travel measures; Legal and policy; Regulatory change
Level of Jurisdiction: National
Lead People/Agency: Legislature, MBIE

Overview: The government is temporarily amending immigration law to make it more flexible and responsive to challenges posed by Covid-19. Powers would expire after 12 months. The bill introduces eight time-limited powers allowing it to:

1. Impose, vary or cancel conditions for classes of temporary-entry visa holders
2. Vary or cancel conditions for classes of resident-class visa holders
3. Extend the expiry dates of visas for classes of people
4. Grant visas to individuals and classes of people in the absence of an application
5. Waive any regulatory requirements for certain classes of application
6. Waive the requirement to obtain a transit visa
7. Suspend the ability to make applications for visas or submit expressions of interest in applying for visas by classes of people
8. Revoke the entry permission of people who arrive either on private aircraft or marine vessels (to align them with people who arrive on commercial flights, who can already be refused entry)
Full details here: https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/415802/covid-19-new-zealand-government-to-grant-itself-visa-law-powers-for-12-months

Type of Justification: Advice of INTERNAL government advisory committee or group
Source of Evidence or Justification: National – government
Evidence/Justification: Lees-Galloway said the Immigration Act had very limited ability to deal with applicants as a class or group of individuals.

“The current Act’s small number of emergency provisions were introduced at a time when New Zealand had much lower numbers of temporary migrants.

“We are finding now that the existing settings are not enough to respond appropriately where, for example, large numbers of visas need to be changed or extended at once,” he said.

Lees-Galloway said a range of safeguards would be applied, including that these powers expire after 12 months.