Some offshore residence applications are likely to follow

 A quick recap

Offshore temporary visa processing was largely halted after our border closed  and March 2020 and formally suspended from 10 August 2020. This has left around 50,000 unprocessed applications. Residence applications were still able to be processed but were low priority. This has led to very long delays many applicants.

There have also been long delays with residence application processing:  we give a quick update about this below.


Exceptions to date

A small number of applicants, mostly in the partnership and a few investment categories have been able to apply but most applications have not been processed. Processing is currently suspended until at least February 2022. Immigration New Zealand have finally announced a decision terminating these temporary visa applications.


You lodged application before 10 August 2020: lapsed

If you applied for a temporary visa from outside New Zealand before 10 August 2020 you will have their application lapsed and be refunded. This means that your medical and police certificates may still be relied on for future applications.


You lodged application after 10 August 2020:  returned unprocessed

People who applied for a temporary visa from outside New Zealand after 10 August 2020, when offshore applications were suspended, will have their application returned unprocessed and be refunded.

This means that the medical and police certificates will not count for future applications. This means that they will go stale 3 months after being submitted for medical certificates and 6 months after being submitted for police certificates.


Refunds:  it will take some time

Immigration New Zealand is working through the process to refund the application fees and levies for these applications. Immigration New Zealand advise that because there are up to 50,000 applications to be refunded. This will take time to work through and refunds will be issued in batches.

If you are eligible for a refund INZ will email you, or your representative, when your refund is being processed. You do not have to ask us for the refund. Full details about the refund process to be found here.


Applications excluded from lapsing and refunding

Applications not being lapsed and refunded include:

  • Applications made from a COVID-19 quarantine free travel zone where you have notified INZ in writing before 30 June 2021 that you are still in a COVID-19 quarantine free travel zone, and want your application to be processed.
  • Applications based on a relationship (partner or dependent children) to a New Zealand citizen, residence class visa holder or temporary visa holder.

However there is some debate about whether visitor visa applications for clients who did not meet the living together requirement would be included.

  • Work visa applications under any of the following categories: Post-study work, Work to Residence, Entrepreneur Work Visa Category and Global Impact Visa Categories.
  • An application for a work visa to arrange the transfer to, and investment of funds in, New Zealand after your application for residence under the Investor 1 or Investor 2 Category has been approved in principle.
  • Applications based on a relationship (partner or dependent children) to a principal applicant with a temporary visa application that is listed above.

Contact our office if you are unclear about whether you or your staff awaiting visas offshore may qualify for an exemption.  Please note that for work to residence applications there are also additional delays and prioritisation based on income.  In a few cases may qualify for a border exception but the grounds for these ( as at July 2021)  are exceptionally narrow. Critical purpose visas require the applicant to have a unique skill which is not readily available in New Zealand and to have either a very high salary at twice the median wage or for the project to be a time-limited project with specific benefits  to the economy.


Future applications  

Future applications will not be adversely affected by the lapsing and returning of these applications.


Skilled migrant expressions of interest, and unallocated offshore applications likely to be looked at soon

Unfortunately immigration New Zealand’s website gives the impression that skilled migrant visa applications are being processed as normal aside from no new invitation to apply being issued.  This is not the full picture.   As at July 2021 there is a backlog of   around 10,000 unprocessed skilled migrant expressions of interest. The future of those expressions of interest and unallocated applications particularly “lower priority” (salary currently below applications is very uncertain.

Prior to the border closure immigration New Zealand was already prioritising applicants with an annual salary of at least $106,080, government jobs or roles needing occupational registration.  Others faced at least a 2 year delay which means many thousands of applications have not yet been allocated. The ombudsman criticised this informal process  and refunds were offered.

A decision regarding unprocessed skilled migrant expressions of interest is expected soon.  For many applicants the news will not be good. Voluntary withdrawals and refunds have already been offered for “low priority” residence applications which have not been processed.


Contact our friendly team for further information.

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