INZ's Response to Coronavirus - Updated on Feb 15, 2020

Coronavirus threat has forced New Zealand to extend the travel restrictions for visitors coming from mainland China - INZ responds to the latest developments.

In its efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus in the country, the New Zealand government has placed travel restrictions on foreigners transiting via or arriving from mainland China.

All foreigners who have transited via or have spent time in mainland China in the last 14 days will not be allowed entry in New Zealand.

INZ (Immigration New Zealand) has come out with a response to the recent developments published at Coronavirus update: INZ’s response, updated on Feb 15, 2020 – this media release provides information to address the concerns of current visa holders and visa applicants in the wake of New Zealand’s travel restrictions placed on travellers from mainland China.

INZ’s Beijing office has been temporarily closed.

Summary of the situation

Chinese authorities confirmed a new trace of coronavirus in January 2020 and the New Zealand authorities have been monitoring the situation closely since then.

On Feb 2, 2020, the New Zealand government decided to refuse boarding or deny entry into the country to all foreign travellers who left or transited via mainland China after that date – this decision applies to entire China, except Macau SAR, Hong Kong SAR and Taiwan.

Note that this measure does not apply to New Zealand permanent residents, citizens and residents, along with their immediate families, whose travel conditions are valid – they can still enter New Zealand. The travel restrictions also do not apply to the Australian permanent residents and citizens who have established their primary residence in New Zealand.

On Saturday, Feb 15, 2020, the travel restrictions were extended by the government for another 8 days until Monday, Feb 24, 2020. The government will review this ruling every 48 hours and decide if the travel restrictions need to be continued beyond Feb 24, 2020.

INZ and other government agencies are working together to ensure that a whole-government approach is taken to manage the evolving state of affairs.

As a result of this development, some visa processing times will be impacted – though INZ is trying to minimize the impact as much as possible.

What do the coronavirus related travel restrictions mean for NZ travellers?

Here are some highlights of the new coronavirus related travel for passengers coming to New Zealand:

  • You can travel to New Zealand after you stay outside China for longer than 14 days.
  • The 14 days are counted before you board your cruise liner or plane to New Zealand – for instance, if you are boarding at 4:00 pm on Wednesday, Feb 19, 2020, you must have stayed outside China beginning 4:00 pm on Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020.
  • New Zealand residents, citizens and their immediate family members returning to the country will still be allowed to enter, but they must self-isolate for 14 days after their arrival.
  • The travel restrictions will apply to residents with expired travel conditions. Individuals in this state may, however, apply for reinstatement of travel conditions on their resident visa.
  • Air crew will be exempted from these travel restrictions.

How are New Zealand visa holders impacted by restrictions on travellers from mainland China?

If you are in New Zealand on a visa that is expiring soon but cannot return to your home country because of the current travel restrictions and coronavirus outbreak, INZ is working on options to help people like you – you re encouraged to contact INZ to review your options.

You can contact INZ’s immigration contact centre to discuss your specific coronavirus related immigration questions by calling them on 0508 225 288 (from within NZ) or +64 9 952 1679 (from outside NZ).

Meanwhile, you can apply for a visa extension – INZ will assess these applications on a case by case basis against its immigration regulations, factoring in the coronavirus outbreak and the applicable travel restrictions.

If your visa has already been approved, but you cannot travel to New Zealand, you are not eligible for a refund. Note that INZ grants most Chinese travellers a multiple-entry visitor visa valid for up to 5 years.

If you have applied for a New Zealand Visa but cannot or do not want to travel to the country, you can withdraw your application by contacting INZ – INZ is looking at options to refund visa application fees if your case has not yet been decided and is impacted by the coronavirus related travel restrictions.

For student visa holders with a “first entry before date”, INZ will automatically amend their visa conditions to allow them to travel for their visa duration – You will receive a reissued eVisa by the INZ for free.

We expect more news to come out of INZ to keep stakeholders and visa applicants updated. The Auckland based team of immigration experts from Professional Visa Solutions is monitoring the coronavirus related travel restrictions and their impact on New Zealand Visas and immigrants closely. We are prepared to help you with your NZ visa queries during these uncertain times – Book a consultation session now.

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