In this edition:
- Assessment of “family” under new border criteria
- Some resilience to the world’s ills
- Keeping connected to family overseas
- The rental housing market and your expat/migrant employees
Assessment of “family” under new border criteria
Our article published last month detailed the new border exception policy for family members which became effective from 18 June 2020. With more than a month of this policy being active, we share our thoughts on the approach of Immigration New Zealand (INZ) in assessing these requests.
Family of citizens/residents
As provided in our previous article, partners and dependents of New Zealand citizens and residents who are deemed ordinarily resident in New Zealand, or hold a visa on the basis of their relationship, will no longer need to travel with their New Zealand citizen or resident family member to New Zealand to be granted an entry exception.
We are aware of many partners who (due to either their nationality or circumstances) do not hold a partnership visa and must rely on being deemed ordinarily resident in New Zealand. There is no formal definition for ordinarily resident for the purposes of this policy and our view is that INZ’s starting point would be to look at the tax resident definition of whether that person has been in New Zealand for more than 183 days in the last 12 month period.
INZ has declined requests from people who have been here for less time, even though their whole family is in New Zealand, and they have given up their living arrangements and jobs in a home country and shipped all household effects to New Zealand.
Family of New Zealand work, student or visitor visa holders
Similarly, partners and dependent children of work, student or visitor visas can only be granted an exception if they normally live in New Zealand and their partner/parent is in New Zealand. Again, there is no definition for normally live and we have seen INZ taking a strict approach and declining requests in circumstances similar to those detailed above.
Options for those who do not meet criteria
For those who do not clearly meet the criteria or have not been present in New Zealand for more than 183 days in the last 12 months, all hope is not lost under the current policy settings.
Whilst we do not anticipate policy changes within the next few months, this strict assessment will be partly based on the restricted access to Government quarantine facilities, which on expansion will hopefully allow INZ to undertake a less strict assessment of the ordinarily resident/normally live in New Zealand requirements.
Lane Neave has been able to successfully obtain an exception for an individual who spent far less than 183 days in New Zealand. This was based on a multitude of factors, including having New Zealand family, a property and possessions in New Zealand and giving up living arrangements offshore.
INZ has advised that the ordinarily resident/normally live requirements will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, so any applicants should seek formal advice to ensure their best case is presented to INZ.
Further, Lane Neave can also assess whether circumstances warrant presenting a humanitarian case to INZ .
Whilst INZ are enforcing the family border exception policy strictly at present, each case is assessed on its own merits and, therefore, warrants a full and thorough case being made. Lane Neave can advise on prospects and potential other grounds, and whilst we do not anticipate substantial changes in the short-term, the thresholds for ordinarily resident/normally live may be eased as New Zealand’s quarantine capabilities improve and are less pressured.
If you require assistance or guidance with an application, whether you are a migrant employee or employer, please reach out to us. We have extensive experience in dealing with tight labour markets and are already pooling our large team’s capability in preparing precedent documents and approaches that meet the new challenge head-on at lodgement. It is always easier approaching an application like this at the start, rather than coming in half way to try and fix an issue at that stage, but if you find yourself in that position contact us and we will advise as to whether we can assist in securing that challenged visa.
For further immigration advice or assistance, please contact Lane Neave Lawyers:
The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly been a massive shock to the world economic system. It has caused all sorts of grief across the globe. Unemployment has lifted and incomes have been severely dented. Recessions are ugly. All this is supposed to be bad for commodity prices and for nations reliant on such trade.
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Article reproduced with the permission of BNZ.
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Its’s a sad reality that relocating to New Zealand means leaving relatives behind
For many expats planning a move here, and migrants currently in the country, COVID-19 heightens the feeling of physical and emotional distance from family.
We hear stories of anxiety about the health of elderly parents, and fear about being unable to travel if they fall ill. There’s also guilt about our COVID-free lives, with relatives overseas still in lockdown facing climbing infection rates. Others worry that job and visa uncertainly here in New Zealand saps their energy for supporting distressed family offshore.
In collaboration with Distant Family Researcher, Helen Ellis we recently held a webinar for expats and migrants to learn more about maintaining relationships at a time when geographically separated families need each other most.
Helen has focused on grandparents, identifying five ‘PLACES’ where distance grandparenting happens:
- The grandparents’ home during the expat/migrant family’s visits to their country of origin.
- The expat/migrant family’s home in New Zealand when grandparents visit.
- A holiday/vacation home or hotel where the whole family meets in a third country to spend time together
- The grandparents’ empty home when the expat family isn’t there – photos, memories and mementos are constant reminders.
- Cyberspace — relationships maintained in the cloud
In the current environment, the first three of these ‘places’ are not available to us, and the ‘empty home’ is particularly poignant as nobody really knows when those memories of past visits will become a reality again.
This means there is immense pressure for online communication to deliver – be it zoom, emails or family chat groups.
Here are some tips for families wanting to build the best relationships with the channels we currently have available:
- One on one time. This always occurs when families re-unite in person. By contrast, cramming large numbers of people onto each zoom call seems efficient, but individuals can feel robbed of personal and private connection. Try to mix it up.
- Do activities together online, rather than it being all about intense conversations. Try a joint zoom baking session, take your relatives to your daughter’s ballet class on Facetime, or do an extended family Kahoot quiz.
- Revert to the old-fashioned written word. Letters and cards are a wonderful surprise for the recipient, and a more tangible memento than an email or chat message.
- Anticipation is part of the gift. The ability to order a hamper, present or flowers for delivery to your offshore family is wonderful. Advance warning, and the resulting anticipation, can be part of the package – they feel cherished and grateful both in advance and when it arrives!
If you’d like to know more about Helen’s research, or contribute your stories and experience please visit:
Article provided by Bridget Romanes – Principal, Mobile Relocation.
Mobile Relocation’s team of Resettlement Advisors is located across the major cities and regional centres in New Zealand. And for organisations operating across Australia and New Zealand, Mobile Relocation also provides resettlement services in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Darwin, Adelaide and Brisbane.
How are your expat and migrant employees doing in terms of housing as New Zealand emerges from COVID-19? This is a valid question for employers as having a decent place to live is essential for happy, motivated workers on the job.
In this article we survey the post-COVID rental market, the implications for expat and migrant tenants, and consider what steps employers can take to make sure their people are well housed.
Two major drivers of housing demand – international education and migration – were halted abruptly when the border closed. So, we’re certainly seeing larger numbers of properties available higher in areas dependent on student tenants (Auckland and Christchurch CBDs), gateway suburbs for migrants (Auckland’s North Shore) or cities with large migrant worker populations like Queenstown.
In other areas, tenants are generally trying to stay put as much as possible. But it’s early days yet. When the wage subsidies end job losses are predicted to ramp up, putting pressure on many people to move to more affordable properties.
In any time of instability, landlords and property managers prefer to retain good tenants rather than risk a property sitting empty.
Many landlords are prepared to negotiate and are likely to be open to flexible solutions around rental prices.
We’ve recently had success reducing the rent for an expat project team which had some members exit the country. Instead of seeing the team move out of their shared house to smaller property, the landlord agreed to match the price of the smaller place, on the understanding that when the borders were open and the full team returned, the original rental would be reinstated.
Current complexity around visas is confusing for landlords and can be detrimental for migrant and expat tenants.
There are now thousands of people in NZ on automatic visa extensions due to expire end-September. Although INZ has signaled that it will be tougher to get work visas, many of these people have scarce skills and are likely to be able to stay in New Zealand as part of our economic recovery.
Yet in the current uncertain rental market landlords are wary about broken tenancies and we have had situations where they have been reluctant to let properties to expat and migrant clients – even those who have been in NZ for some time, with a good rental history.
What can you do to help?
- Provide a letter, verifying the employee’s role in your business, and explaining their visa situation. You are not providing a personal or rental guarantee. But an explanation by a Kiwi employer can add real credibility for tenants in the eyes of some landlords.
- Given advice on how Kiwi negotiation styles. Your migrant employee’s culture might deal with money discussions in a quite a different way to what local landlords are used to. If you’re comfortable doing so, offer to step in as a 3rd party to facilitate.
- Discuss options for rental budget management with your migrant employees facing a cut in hours or salary because of COVID-19. Could they ask their current landlord for a rent reduction or take advantage of market oversupply to move to a comparable place at a lower price?
- Ensure your people know their rights as tenants. The Tenancy Services website has plenty of user-friendly information available.
Employee wellbeing is front of mind for many businesses post-lockdown. Checking in with your expat and migrant employees about their housing situation will be appreciated. And a little help and advice will go a long way for people who might be having difficulty housing themselves and their family.
Article provided by Bridget Romanes – Principal, Mobile Relocation.
If you have any questions or would like advice about particular rental housing issues, please contact us
For more information about Mobile Relocation, visit the website: