The Government has announced changes to the border entry restrictions

The changes are expected to come into force sometime in October 2020

They include:

  • New border exception category for normally-resident temporary work visa holders
  • Extension of travel conditions for offshore resident visa holders
  • Changes to border exception criteria for Australian and visa waiver partners of New Zealand citizens and residents

For work visa holders

If you hold a valid work visa and were offshore when the border was closed due to covid-19 restrictions then you may be able to apply for an exemption to come back to NZ and continue working. The criteria that you must meet are:

  • (for most people) You must have been living in NZ for at least 2 years
  • You must be returning to the same job that you held before you left
  • You must have left NZ on or after 01/12/2019
  • Your visa must be either a Work to Residence visa or a mid-skilled or higher Essential Skills Work visa

For offshore resident visa holders

If you are a NZ resident but your travel conditions have expired while you have been outside of NZ then and extension of 12 months will be granted. Usually once your travel conditions expire you cannot travel back into NZ but if your travel conditions expired on or after 02/02/2020 then you will be issued with a new visa valid for 12 months

INZ will advise relevant visa holders by email by the end of September, using the most recent email address that they have on file, and you8 will still need to apply for an entry exemption.

For Australian and visa waiver partners of New Zealand citizens and residents

For partners of New Zealanders from Australia and from visa countries, will be generally more eligible for a border exemption. You will still need to apply for the exemption and the granting of this is not automatic, but supposedly there would be a higher chance of success than now. It still forms a kind of partnership visa so evidnece of partnership will be required.

  • Australian partners must apply for a border exemption. if granted the partner will be given a visa to travel to NZ and be granted a resident visa on arrival.
  • Partners from visa waiver countries must also apply for a border entry exemption and if granted will be given an invitation to apply for a visa to travel to NZ, and will then be able to apply for a further partnership based visa upon arrival.


The changes make it easier for these groups of people to travel to NZ, but it still depends upon being granted an exemption so it does not mean that the borders are open yet. It is a good start and will enable many people to get back to normal, so it is a very positive development.