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Immigration FAQ during Covid-19

Thank you for your continued support of The Regions Immigration Law and Recruitment. 
These are unprecedented times, which are unsettling for everybody. We’re dedicated to keeping you informed with any important updates – that will allow us to support you to get the job done!
We’ve been listening to our clients,  and below are the most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) as well as answers. Let us know if you find this useful or if you think a question is missing. These are dairy focused like our business, if you have non dairy questions please contact us directly.

Are INZ currently processing visas?

INZ are presently working at about 5% functionality. A small skeleton staff that are processing visas for essential workers and requests for exceptions for urgent consideration. Given the volume of submissions they receive, we wouldn’t expect any visas entered now to be processed for at least 3 months.  We have been privy to talk of a July resumption to some degree of ‘normal’ however, much is still up on the air.

I have a new employee starting in June, his application is currently with INZ, can he still move to our farm on 1st June?

In most cases Yes. Visa conditions still must be abided by in any situation. Solutions are available – moving farms & staying within the same region is straight forward within the open work transfer scheme, in relation to Covid 19 variations, approved last week. Please note we are calling this the open work transfer scheme, so as to not confuse it with normal variations of conditions, it allows opening up of visa conditions in some situations. 

Moving farms in a different region, and moving jobs to join a farm when you were not previously farming is more complicated and requires an exemption to the normal rules, however all indications are a common sense approach will be applied.
We would not recommend trying to move islands, however moving to a nearby region would be a stronger case to make.  The same thought process applies if someone has been made redundant due to Covid 19, their chances of attaining work rights to join a farm would be worthy of making a case to get this approved.  Talk to us for specific advice on your case – and in these trying times we will do our best to make sure you attain the staff / work rights needed.

My employee with a visa due for renewal has received an email stating his visa is now extended to Sept. Should we wait till Sept to apply or still start the renewal process now?

You can process it now, and we can still submit this online.  Paper applications are a no go. It is likely still best practice, to start the process now.  This will ensure that your application is closer to the front of what will be a long queue when INZ offices are functioning again. Contact us for more advice on specific situations you need help with. We will do all within our power to ensure continued work rights, via rollovers or interim visas while Covid 19 keeps things in limbo. Staff with an inability to attain medicals & police reports are given some degree of leeway to submit these later.

My worker is stuck overseas after going home for a holiday. What are my options here?

We can apply with INZ for an exception for your worker to be allowed into NZ, as a border closure exemption.  Please contact us if you want us to go ahead with this. To this point as at April 23 & time of writing of this document, health care visa holders were the primary people being approved border entry rights.  We are told as the Covid alert within NZ trends downwards, opportunities for other essential services workers will be made.  We are pushing hard that the skilled experienced staff with lives & jobs in NZ are allowed to return & are at the top of the essential services workers lists allowed re-entry rights.

Please note that NZ government rules require mandatory quarantine of all arrivals into NZ for 14 days, that is if the worker is allowed to return. We predict this will be a user pays system.  All parties should prepare for the large costs associated with flights, and user pays quarantine if and when people are allowed to return. 
Dairy workers are on the cited lists of essential workers (workers who produce food for domestic consumption and export, and calving is around the corner this makes our case much stronger than other industries.

I have a candidate in the PH with an approved NZ visa to come to NZ for the first time, and his entry window into NZ is nearly up. Are these being extended?

We are awaiting a response from INZ with a solution on this. Please bear with us. We anticipate INZ agreeing to do a “visa reissue” allowing entry at a later date. 

Please note that Metro Manila is, and will continue to be, in total lockdown. And no one is able to travel domestically – even to the airport. International flights will also be a barrier – at present there are almost no flights into NZ from the Philippines. 
MFAT running a recent flight for NZers & a few health care workers & the domestic travel around the Philippines to get to the airport is a good sign, we are in communications so that when our clients have re-entry rights we can discuss flight charter options.

Who’s eligible for an exception to the border restrictions?

If you require urgent travel to New Zealand for one of the following reasons: essential health worker; other essential worker; Tongan or Samoan national requiring essential travel to New Zealand; partner or dependent child of student or work visa holder; partner or dependent child of a New Zealand citizen or resident; Australian citizen or permanent resident that normally resides in New Zealand; humanitarian. 

We are submitting exceptions to INZ for Dairy Farm workers on the basis they perform an essential service as well as being critical for ensuring health and safety and animal welfare legislation are complied with on-farm during Covid.

My candidate has an approved INZ work visa but not a MPR (Philippine Exit Visa), if the borders open or a NZ exemption allowing my staff in is granted, how will this happen asap if POEA are closed?

This is not going to happen quickly, as the following (approx) variables need to be operational, and do their part in bringing your staff member to New Zealand. 

Approval from the Philippines Offshore Labour Office
Approval from the Philippines Overseas Employer Administration
An international flight from Airline companies (Air NZ etc)
Quarantine on arrival period
Our best guess is this might be available by August 2020, please work with us on other staffing solutions but please understand we are in a tough labour market void of its normal options of international recruitment.

If I can't get my offshore recruited staff member to NZ for the new season what are the alternatives for resourcing?

We are working on a number of initiatives to bring you temporary and permanent staff from within New Zealand. We are also working with the Government to find a solution to place both local people and work visa holders who have been displaced from other industries.

If I can't get my offshore recruited staff member to NZ for the new season what are the alternatives for resourcing?

We are working on a number of initiatives to bring your temporary and permanent staff from within New Zealand. We are also working with the Government to find a solution to place people who have been displaced from other industries. 

My staff member is outside NZ has used all annual leave, what are the options?

We are aware of farms being able to claim the Govt wage subsidy for staff outside NZ on the basis the staff member forms 30% or more of the normal team, and production & sleep for other staff are all suffering, talk to us if you want guidance making a case to the Govt that your farm & situation qualifies for the wage subsidy for you to pay on to your staff who cannot come back to their existing jobs & lives.  Please note this only applies to people already working & living in NZ, not people waiting to come to NZ for the first time.

Every case is different and we recognise you may have your own specific questions. If you would like to talk to someone about Covid-19 concerns or other matters please reach out to your Key Account Manager, they have a direct line to our very experienced immigration team and are always happy to chase down the answers for you. We are working full time through the lock down period so don’t hesitate to contact us.

If you have any other concerns please feel free to submit a question here:

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