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Communtity Law Manual | Immigration | Temporary Visas: Working, studying or visiting for a limited time

Temporary Visas: Working, studying or visiting for a limited time

Overview of the Temporary Visa system

Immigration Act 2009, ss 14, 79

If you want to stay in New Zealand temporarily to work, study or visit, you’ll need a Temporary Visa from Immigration New Zealand. You’ll also have to get entry permission when you first arrive in New Zealand.

Different types of Temporary Visa: Working, studying, visiting

INZ Operational Manual: Temporary Entry, E3.10, E3.15, U2.5, V2.5

There are three types of Temporary Visa:

  • Work Visa – These allow you to work in New Zealand as long as the visa is valid and you follow the conditions of the visa – for example, you might have to work for a specific employer. Work Visas don’t allow you to study, apart from work training that’s part of your normal conditions of employment and one course of study or training of up to three months. Generally, the maximum time for a single Work Visa is five years. If you want to stay longer, you’ll need to apply for another Work Visa before the first one expires.

    Immigration Act 2009, s 4; INZ Operational Manual: Temporary Entry, W2.2

    If you’re not a citizen or permanent resident and you’ll be doing “work” in New Zealand, you’ll need a Work Visa. The immigration laws define “work” as “any activity undertaken for gain or reward”. This includes self-employment.

  • INZ Operational Manual: Temporary Entry, E3.20(c), (d), U3.1(a)(ii)

    Student Visa – These allow you to study or train in New Zealand while the visa is valid. You can’t work unless the visa says you can. Generally, the maximum time that Immigration New Zealand can grant a single student visa for is four years. To get a Student Visa, you must have paid all the fees for your course (or be exempt from paying them). It will be a condition of your Student Visa that you attend your course and that you make satisfactory progress.

  • Visitor Visa – These allow you to be in New Zealand, until the date specified in the visa, for any legal purpose, such as visiting family or friends, getting medical treatment, or just sightseeing. You can’t work or study, apart from one course of study or training of up to three months. The maximum time Immigration NZ can grant a single Visitor Visa for is 12 months, and usually one won’t be granted for more than nine months.

There are also two special types of Temporary Visa: Limited Visas and Interim Visas (see “Limited Visas and Interim Visas: Special types of Temporary Visa”).

COVID-19 rules

There are special rules for some temporary visa holders during the pandemic period:

Employer assisted work visas expiring between 9 July and 31 December 2020

If you were in New Zealand on 10 July 2020 and you hold an employer-assisted work visa due to expire before 31 December 2020, it may be extended by 6 months. This includes visas that were due to expire after 9 July 2020, and visas that had been previously extended to 25 September 2020.

All your visa conditions will remain the same – including your job title and location. If anything about your situation has changed, you will need to apply for a variation of conditions or, if your job has ended, a new visa.

However, this extension does NOT apply to your partner or dependent child if they have a visa based on their relationship with you. Their visa expiry date will stay the same and they will need to apply for a new visa before the old one expires.

Temporary visas expiring before 9 July 2020

If you were in New Zealand on 2 April 2020 and your work, student, visitor, limited or interim visa expired before 9 July 2020, these visas have been extended to 25 September 2020.

Temporary visas expiring after 9 July 2020

If you have an open work visa, student, visitor, limited or interim visa which expires after 9 July 2020, those visas have not been extended and the expiry date stays the same. You must either leave the country before your visa expires, or apply for a new visa.

If you don’t have a current visa

If you don’t have a current visa or you were unable to apply for one before your current visa expired, then you will be in the country unlawfully. This includes people whose visa expired before 1 April 2020. As you are not able to apply for a visa while unlawful, you must either leave the country or ask for a special temporary visa under s 61 of the Immigration Act.

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