COVID 19 update 11 September 2020

On 30th August 2020, Auckland moved back to Covid 19 Alert level “2.5” while the rest of New Zealand to level 2. This will be in place until at least 16th September 2020.

Our office is open… with safeguards

Our Newmarket office has re-opened on an appointments-only basis for existing clients to:

  • Drop off, pick up or sign documents
  • Briefly discuss your case only if strictly necessary if zoom or phone do not work for you- appointments at level 2 / 2.5 are generally limited to 30 minutes and 1-2 people to be seen only.

If you are coming in for any reason, please respect the safety of staff, other clients and yourself by observing the guidelines on our website:

Let’s talk…by phone and online

  • We will be using phone, skype, zoom or other video conferencing for meetings where ever possible. To book a video conference with staff you can ring (09 666 0440) or email us at
  • Where ever possible we ask that documents can be emailed or uploaded through our online portal on our website

Automatic extensions for some visa holders

Immigration New Zealand has recently announced extensions for:

  • Employer supported work visa holders and their partner and dependants: An automatic extension for six months. For more detail see here. 
  • Visitor visa holders; for five months. An automatic extension See more details here.
  • Others who can’t leave New Zealand can apply for a two month extension. 

More border exceptions

  • Employer-supported work visa holders trapped offshore who lived in New Zealand for 2-years and still have valid visas can now return:  see further details here.
  • More partners of New Zealand residents and citizens who have never lived here can now return to New Zealand without needing their New Zealand partner to travel with them, but they must be from a visa waiver country. See further details here. 

Offshore residence extensions

Many New Zealand residents trapped offshore will have their travel conditions extended for 12-months. For more details see here

More critical workers allowed into New Zealand

Pacific Legal has had success in supporting key projects such as Golf Course developments to bring critical workers into New Zealand. This exception has required proof of economic benefits to New Zealand and unique skills.  The 2nd part of this test is being eased.

We offer a free appraisal service for employers. For details see here.

Offshore processing still frozen

 Unfortunately, for most applicants who are overseas, offshore temporary visa applications processing is on hold.  For more details, see here.

 Contact us

 If you have any further questions our friendly team will be happy to assist. You can email us at or phone 09 666 0440



 Keeping safe when visiting our office

  • Please book ahead (see contact details below)
  • Please scan the QR Code (using the Covid Tracer App) or signing in at reception
  • Maintain social distancing- we have set up reception to assist this.
  • We ask that no more than two people enter the office at the time. No handshakes. There is hand sanitiser at reception.
  • Do not attend if you are unwell.
  • Except for quick drop offs at reception where we can maintain distance, we ask that clients wear masks. This is because our interview room is a small enclosed space. We have spare masks at reception. How about a zoom or phone consultation?
  • Any appointment is 30-minutes maximum.

We are required to have these safeguards in place to “safely” open under level 2.5. Thanks for your understanding. We will return to more normal appointments at level 1. Our apologies for any inconvenience.

We remind clients that complying with Covid 19 level restrictions including contact tracing, social distancing and safe trading requirements are now a condition of all temporary visas. They are also important for your safety

Some visas are being extended

  • Employer supported work visas due to expire before 31st December 2020. This includes essential skills and work to residence. The extension is for six months subject to some conditions. Further lower skilled work visas however will be limited to 6 months. For more details see this link.
  • Partners and dependants of the above work visa holders will get the same extension provided if visas would have expired between 17th August and 31st December 2020. For more details see this link.
  • Visitor visa holders where the visa will expire before the end of October 2020. Visas will be extended automatically for five months from the current expiry date. This does not include critical purpose visa holders, guardians of students and partners or dependants linked to a work visa holder whose visa was extended previously. Notices are due to go out in mid-September.

Other temporary visa holders unable to leave New Zealand who are making genuine plans to leave. From mid-September 2020 they can apply for a special 2 month visa before their current visa expires. See here for more details.

Please note:

  • These extensions only apply to people on current lawful visas.
  • They do not apply to people on interim visas.

If in doubt contact our office for advice.


Work visa holders who can now return

Work visa holders who have

  • been living in New Zealand for at least two years (or one year in some specific cases), and
  • returning to the same job they held before departing New Zealand, or continue to operate a business in New Zealand as part of entrepreneur work visa, and
  • have departed New Zealand on or after 1st December 2019, and
  • have held either:
    • a Work to Residence visa, or an Essential Skills visa (assessed as mid-skilled or higher-skilled) when they departed New Zealand and does not expire before the end of 2020 or, if it is expiring before end of 2020, they must have applied for a further visa on the basis of the same job when they left that allows them to remain in New Zealand for 12 months or more before 10 August 2020.

Note: All entry into New Zealand requires 14 days managed isolation.

There are quite a few conditions for this exception and we encourage you to contact our office if you think it might apply to you.

More partners can enter New Zealand

 From October 2020, partners of New Zealand citizens or residents who do not hold current partnership visas and have never lived in New Zealand will no longer need their New Zealand partner to accompany them back to New Zealand.

Pacific Legal has been involved in a number of these cases. This will make a real difference to some partners who relocated back to New Zealand head of their offshore partner and were then separated.  Until now the New Zealand partner has had to fly back and “fetch” the offshore partner. These partners will still need to prove that they are in a genuine and stable relationship.

The online border exception form has previously not allowed documents to be uploaded and we will wait to see whether this changes. The border exception process is very challenging and we find that clients often underestimate the level of evidence needed.  Immigration New Zealand’s guidelines in this area are changing regularly and it pays to check first. If you are not sure if you qualify contact our friendly team for advice.

Resident visa holders with expired travel conditions now have an extension

 Individuals whose travel conditions expired on or after 2 February 2020 will be issued a new visa valid for 12 months.

Immigration New Zealand will advise relevant visa holders by email by the end of September 2020.

Individuals who have not been able to travel to New Zealand under the current border restrictions (including people granted residence offshore wanting to travel to New Zealand for the first time) will still need  a border exception before they can travel to New Zealand.  There are differences between various cases and it pays to check first.


More critical workers are allowed in: it still a very high threshold

To be eligible to bring in “other” critical workers and employer first needs to make a request and prove that:

(a) That the project will create jobs and economic growth for New Zealand and that,

(b) The worker has unique skills which are unattainable in New Zealand

There are some shortcuts for “shovel ready projects” listed by the government. There are also some rules around minimum salary depending on whether short or long-term visas are being sought.

We have found that employers are often surprised how difficult the testers compared with labour market tests and other normal immigration processes. It is at a whole different level: typically we would be providing economic analysis of the benefits of the project and endorsement at a national sector level for it.  We would also have to provide proof that the proposed staff had skills that were absolutely unavailable in New Zealand.

Many employers struggle with both of the above tests even for very skilled employees. Many deserving roles cannot be filled.

On 11 September 2020, the government eased the above requirements.  Currently, an individual must have unique experience and technical or specialist skills that are ‘not obtainable’ in New Zealand. This criterion will change to technical or specialist skills that are not ‘readily obtainable’ in New Zealand.  A requirement that the experience be gained overseas has also been eased.  This will help some employers.  However, this remains a very challenging area.

Employers are welcome to contact us for an appraisal of their case without further obligation.

Other offshore visa applications are on hold

 From 10th August 2020, people outside of New Zealand have not been able to apply for temporary visas for 3 months. Relationship-based visa applications for partners and dependent children of New Zealand citizens and residents can still be lodged.

The latest information we have (in September 2020) from immigration management is that these are still subject to a processing freeze while backlogs of onshore applications are cleared.   The processing freeze may well be extended beyond November.

Any questions?

 If you have any further questions our friendly team will be happy to assist. You can email us at or phone 09 666 0440.