Travel ban update & change of priority processing on residence applications

Following our recent article Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has reviewed its travel ban in response to the novel coronavirus and has decided to extend the ban for a further eight days to 11.59 pm of 3 March 2020. INZ has also extended this ban to refuse travellers who have been to the Diamond Princess Cruise ship in the past 14 days to enter New Zealand.

It is interesting to note that during the travel ban period we have identified individuals from China travelling to another country, staying there for 14 days, and then travelling to New Zealand in compliance with the ban criteria. This is understandable because of financial reasons (many have jobs to return to here) and of course concern in terms of the risks of exposure to the virus during this travel ban period if they are required to remain in China.

The effectiveness of the ban criteria therefore is questionable given this practical work-around.

Priority processing on residence applications

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has announced a change around the order and manner of how they process residence visa applications, given the backlog and delayed processing.

INZ are now providing priority to registration positions and higher paid positions in applications made under the Skilled Migrant Category and the Residence from Work Category. These priorities came in on 24 February 2020.

The order of processing different the types of residence visa applications are as follows:


Note that INZ has clarified that within the priorities outlined above, applicants would generally be processed in the order they are lodged unless any urgency occurs within any individual circumstances.

We have also recently received a direct update from the Minister to confirm that there is no intention to lapse residence applications, in particular the employment focused categories such as the Skilled Migrant Category. INZ has also advised that there has been no deliberate slowdown of processing, the delays are purely based on the increasing amount of applications coming in.

There are a significant number of highly skilled and more valuable residence applications (as categorised above) we currently manage that have been in the queue for up to a year or even longer. With the release of this policy we anticipate these applications to be allocated to a case officer very soon.

If however you are outside the Priority visas, especially those past the 3rd Priority queue (for example Skilled Migrant Category applications outside the above priority criteria), there may be significant delays in approval timeframes due to this new instruction.


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

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