Immigration April Newsletter

In this edition:

Immigration New Zealand start processing some standard visa applications

On 17 April 2020 Immigration New Zealand (INZ) announced that they are now able to start the gradual transition to a fuller service.  As a result they can now begin processing some visa categories for applicants who are already in New Zealand.

Most New Zealand employers and their migrant employees will be aware that all INZ offices are currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.   Some INZ staff are working out of the INZ head office in Wellington and some are working remotely, however visa processing capacity is currently severely limited and will likely remain limited even when New Zealand moves into Alert Level 3.  This is because INZ do not have appropriate capability to deliver their essential services remotely even under Alert Level 3.

To date INZ has focused their processing resources on COVID-19 related applications but are now moving some capacity to start to process the following visa applications:

  • Visas for victims of domestic violence
  • Partnership category temporary visas (including reassessments)
  • Full fee paying international student visas
  • Post study work visas

Priority will be given to these application types in the order listed but INZ advised the assessments of these applications or requests may take longer than usual.  Applications will generally be assessed in date order and will be allocated to an Immigration Officer as soon as possible.

Applicants will only be contacted if further information is required or once a decision is made on their application. If additional information is required, no deadline will be set to provide this information as INZ appreciates it may be difficult to obtain documentation in current circumstances.

INZ will not be generally processing application types outside of this list at this time, but immigration officers will retain the discretion to prioritise other applications where the circumstances of the application require particular urgency.

INZ has not however provided any guidance as to the factors which may affect immigration officers’ discretion to prioritise other types of applications.  We do however expect these decisions only in exceptional cases where a genuine need for prioritisation may exist.

INZ mentioned they will continue to review their priorities and are hopeful they will be able to process more visa types in the near future, however what is clear is a preference to not process any visa applications that are subject to a labour market test at this stage.  We would expect resumed processing of those applications at the conclusion of the 12 week Government wage subsidy for employees.

Further updates

The advice above is current at the time of writing (20 April 2020) and in some instances, represents our predictions of what we expect to see from INZ in policy developments.  However, the COVID-19 situation is constantly evolving and so is INZ’s advice.  Therefore, our advice would be to keep an eye out for future alerts and updates as more information becomes available.  Also, if you need any specific immigration advice then please get in touch with our expert team.

For further information or assistance with emigration please contact Lane Neave Lawyers on + 64 3 379 3720 or email

A small step in the right direction

At 4.00pm on Monday 20 April 2020, the Prime Minister announced that New Zealand will reduce its Covid-19 containment status from Level 4 to Level 3 in light of the fact that there appears to be no (or very low) community transmission here. However, the alert level will not change until April 27 leaving New Zealand in lockdown for almost a week longer than had been hoped by many. It appears there will be two weeks in Level 3 before consideration is given to moving to Level 2. Level 2 would mean a substantial opening up of the economy. Level 3 does not.

Half a million back to work…

It is very easy to dismiss this move as largely irrelevant as, for most of us, things won’t change much. Apart from being able to order more goods online, grab takeaways, and travel further to get exercise, the world will look very much the same. But this misses the point.
Back of the envelope calculations indicate that around 500,000 people, who are currently at home twiddling their thumbs, will, at least theoretically, be able to go back to work. This will include folk in: construction, manufacturing, forestry and distribution.

It won’t be all plain sailing though. Businesses will still have to prove they can operate with social distancing. There will be lags in getting businesses up and running again. Businesses will not be keen for all to return to work when the outlook remains so uncertain. Some employees will still not be happy to go back to work, especially if they have dependents who they are caring for. And, where will the demand for some of the goods and services come from that these re-employed workers will be tasked with providing?

This last point seems to be being overlooked by many commentators. Yes, spending will “surge” as the headlines read. But it’s not difficult to get a surge when the starting point is zero. Over the next year consumer spending will remain afflicted by:

– A higher unemployment rate than we are now experiencing;
– A period of lower remuneration for many of those who kept their jobs thanks to the wage subsidy;
– Increased general uncertainty
– Lower asset prices
– And, a lower marginal propensity to consume.

So, as a step in the right direction, it’s all good news. But a return to anything like normality, it ain’t.

Nonetheless, it is imperative we get people back into employment as soon as possible. The political imperative to do so will grow strongly by the day, and we now simply have to face into the potential trade-offs between the heightened transmission of Covid-19 and the impacts on people of a depressed economy. The deeper and more protracted any downturn is, the lesser will be the trade-off between health and employment and the more it will become a trade-off between one set of medical conditions against another.

The extent of the impact on employees of the current lockdown is almost beyond comprehension. According to government data, 1.6 million people are now receiving the wage subsidy. That equates to 60% of all those employed. So far the cost of the wage subsidy is in excess of $9.0 billion. The Government cannot afford to dole this amount out every 12 weeks so it will need to see as many people back on-the-job, by the end of this quarter, as possible. And, alas, for those who are not, it is highly likely this will be because the businesses they now work for either no longer exist, are no longer sustainable or have been forced to lower staff numbers on an ongoing basis.

Wage Subsidy hides true unemployment…

Because the government has bought itself time with the Wage Subsidy, there will now be a huge degree of hidden unemployment. Consequently, we think the official unemployment rate will only rise to around 5.4% in Q2 of this year. But once the subsidies abate, that is the time when the unemployment rate will surge to well over 8.0% by the end of Q3.

This will have implications for the broader trajectory of the New Zealand economy. We all know that Q2 will take a massive economic hit. It is now looking increasingly likely that Q3 will reveal a big jump in activity but that this jump will only unwind 40% of the previous decline. From there on in, as the unemployment rate increases rapidly, the economy’s growth rate is likely to go through a relatively flat patch before finally kicking into action as accumulated fiscal and monetary policy relaxation has the chance to impact on what becomes the new-normal economy.

The track of employment will clearly dictate much of the economy’s evolution as household spending and investment in housing account for around two-thirds of expenditure on GDP.

Article reproduced with the permission of the BNZ.

Open your account with Bank of New Zealand up to 12 months before you arrive. To find out more visit:

S&P NZX50 Index 101

Why has New Zealand’s equity market outperformed, falling less than its international peers, having staged a remarkable recovery over recent weeks? Yes, we have seen the tail risks for the economy diminish as the government and monetary response have been large, targeted and swift. But is it more than that? The index we look at is the S&P NZX50 Gross Index, the most widely reported NZ market benchmark. While it is true that a market index is designed to measure the performance of the market, global indices use various stock selection criteria and calculation methods. What this means is that we are not comparing apples with apples.

The S&P NZX50 Index is made up of the 50 largest and most liquid stocks in the NZ market. There is no consideration of how well these constituents represent the wider NZ economy. Rather, it is a pure rule base selection. This contrasts to the US’s Dow Jones Industrial Average for example, which includes large, mature blue-chip companies selected by Wall Street Journal editors.

Price weighted, value weighted (or market capitalisation weighted) and equal weighted are the basic weighting methods that indices will generally use for the calculations. For example, Japan’s Nikkei stock average uses modified price-weighted method while its TOPIX index uses value weighted method. The S&P NZX50 Index use float-adjusted market capitalisation weighted method.

Each calculation method has its pros and cons. Higher share price stock movements affect price weighted indices’ performances more than lower share price ones. Larger cap stock movements affect value/market cap weighted indices performances more than smaller cap ones. Equal weighted indices treat all stocks the same, which may not match the economic reality.

The nature of NZ’s main index means that is skewed towards a handful of large names, with the two largest stocks the a2 Milk Company (ATM) and Fisher and Paykel Healthcare (FPH) making up over a quarter of the index. Both are in a select group of names which may benefit from COVID-19 (certainly for FPH), having provided robust returns of over 25% for the 2020 year to date. The relative strength of most companies within the S&P NZX50 with a large proportion defensive, income generating names, has also played a role in the market’s outperformance. Strong, reliable dividend streams, proven management and a track record of providing consistent and dependable earnings has always been an attractive trait while interest rates have been low. This hasn’t changed, they understandably remain the market’s stalwart.

The S&P NZX50 Index is unique, because unlike other reported market indices it includes dividend distributions. This can help to contain its price swings. The unique characteristics of the New Zealand market means that in a relative sense it has been a better place to hide than others when volatility strikes.

Article provided by Ally Cui – Director, JB Were.

Can New Zealand economy rebound?

Thousands of Kiwis are at risk of losing their jobs in the coming weeks due to Covid-19, however prominent business leaders have set out a raft of measures the Government could take to cushion the financial impact of the virus and protect many jobs.

The Government’s fast-acting, multibillion-dollar relief package has saved jobs undoubtedly. This may keep the NZ domestic economy ticking over. The coronavirus elsewhere has brought countries grinding to a halt.

It is anticipated that over the next few weeks we are likely to see thousands of people enter the unemployment market. This will force the NZ Government’s hand in terms of Immigration New Zealand protecting the rights of New Zealand Citizens and Residents first and foremost.

They will no doubt maintain the current NZ border security for a prolonged period and amend NZ Immigration policy.  Watch this space in this regard.

The question will be whether the NZ economy can rebound from the (Big) “Covid 19 speed bump” quickly enough to minimise job losses.

The Tourism sector – New Zealand’s greatest earner of overseas revenue, is obviously suffering the most along with the Hospitality sector. The future in these sector’s remains somewhat fragile until the Border restrictions are relaxed.

Most clients of Enterprise Recruitment nationally remain optimistic, which gives great hope that business may return from its current low ebb.

The saying “as one door closes and another opens”  is best remembered in these volatile times. New Zealand has a sound balance sheet along with strong fiscal policy. This along with NZ’s strong entrepreneurial spirit should hold us in good stead over the coming years post this Covid 19 tragedy.

New Zealand still has skill shortages across most areas (Tourism / Hospitality aside now). The question will be how many New Zealanders are willing to retrain and potentially relocate to different regions to fill any voids in our workforce.

Enterprise Recruitment have over forty years experience in the New Zealand market place and have strong networks throughout the country.

We remain open for business and offer a complimentary CV review service and feedback on your employability in the New Zealand market.

We can be contacted via Steve Baker on +64 27 212 5483 or

How to create the ideal relocation experience for spouse or partners

The adage ‘happy house, happy spouse’ is even more true when it comes relocating and resettling internationally.

Employers who support expat and migrant partners are managing a significant relocation risk – sadly, 37% of international assignment failure is due to family issues, spouse dissatisfaction or inability to settle into their new country.

Engaging partners with the possibility, and reality, of relocating is crucial to a successful move.

Here are some tips for how to do just that…

Step 1: Deciding whether to make the move….

Ask don’t tell

It’s quite normal to find the candidate more enthusiastic about the offshore opportunity than their spouse. Partners need to ask questions and receive information too, rather than just getting a sales job. Nobody likes being pushed into a life-changing decision. Arranging look-see visits to NZ for partners alongside job interviews enables them to get a true idea of what a new life here would be like.

Put yourself in their shoes

Worries about how kids (or fur children) will cope with the move may be foremost a partner’s mind. Maybe their career is peaking, or they are starting to regain control over their own life as children grow up. No issue is insurmountable, but they do need to be acknowledged and explicitly addressed.

Understand different personalities

Often couples may not actually disagree over an international move. But it might seem they do. This is because they approach the prospect quite differently. For example, a planner needs to have a fully detailed picture of their new life and will want to work on building this up over time. While a visionary will quickly see the path ahead and want to act, leaving the detail to be filled in later.

Some of our clients find it useful for one or both partners to work through a personality test, providing insight into how individuals feel most comfortable conceptualising and undertaking an international move.

Step 2: Executing the move….

Take lessons from work

A comprehensive onboarding programme and a positive employee experience are crucial to effective performance in a new role. Establishing a new home life is just the same. Cover off the practicalities like housing and schooling. And don’t forget the emotional support that is crucial to getting through the inevitable ups and downs of building a new life in an unfamiliar place.

Support the partner’s new life

The working spouse will have a ready-made network of people and a sense of purpose through their careers. The partner will be creating all that from scratch. Employers should foster the spouse’s social integration, helping them meet people and introducing them to locals in all walks of life. In fact, those connections made outside work will be what keeps expat in a place for the long term as they develop real roots in their new community.

Finally, taking a sensitive and proactive approach to building the relocation experience of both the migrant or expat, and their spouse, is key to maximising the potential of a successful move to New Zealand.

Article provided by Bridget Romanes – Principal, Mobile Relocation.

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