As per Iain Lees-Galloway, New Zealand’s immigration minister, the government is looking to amend the immigration law temporarily so it can respond to the COVID-19 challenges more flexibly.
The plan is to introduce the bill tomorrow to offer “pragmatic solutions” for the “efficient management” of New Zealand visas.
He said, “One of the practical challenges is to quickly manage visa changes for large numbers of migrants who are unable to leave New Zealand due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The proposed bill asks for eight temporary powers allowing the government to:
- Enforce, alter, or cancel the conditions applied to temporary visas
- Alter or cancel the conditions enforced on beneficiaries of resident visas
- Extend the expiration dates for certain classes of approved visas
- Grant visas to certain individuals and classes even if an application has not been made
- Waive the need to get a transit visa
- Allow certain classes of visa applications to be processed by waiving off any applicable regulatory requirements
- Block certain classes of people from making visa applications or submit EOIs (Expression of Interest) for New Zealand visas
- Revoke the entry permissions of people entering on private air crafts and marine vessels. The folks arriving on commercial flights can already be refused entry based on the current regulations
The minister added that the current Immigration Act does not provide the New Zealand government with the ability needed to deal with applicants from a class or group in the wake of the unique challenges thrown by the COVID-19 virus.
“The current act’s small number of emergency provisions were introduced at a time when New Zealand had much lower numbers of temporary migrants,” he added.
Lees-Galloway went on to say, “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.”
The immigration minister stated that enough safeguards would be placed to prevent misuse of these special visa powers, including that these temporary provisions will expire in 12 months.
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