Immigration news round-up

It’s been another interesting week of developments in the world of immigration and so the Lane Neave Immigration Team takes this opportunity to update you on some of the latest developments to be aware of…

New 2021 Residence Category Policy – update

It has been three weeks since the Immigration New Zealand (INZ) announcement on the new 2021 Residence Category policy.  Our firm has a lot of new and existing clients interested in this policy, however, based on the communication we have been privy to between INZ and the immigration industry, there are a very large number of unanswered eligibility questions and also (perhaps) unintended eligibility omissions that INZ are considering now, and no doubt are drafting into the full detail of the policy before public release.

Like any large sweeping policy, at the initial announcement stage it would appear most people will qualify, but the detailed Instructions need to be reviewed to formulate an informed opinion.  Our advice therefore for those wishing to confirm eligibility is to be patient and wait for the rules to be released so that all the factors of each individual situation can be carefully considered.  In this respect it should be noted that no one who is eligible will “miss out” by waiting to confirm eligibility until after the policy is released.

In our latest communication with INZ they have confirmed that they are still on target to release the full details of the policy by the end of October.  Once it is released, we will draft and circulate a thought piece on it to allow a more considered view on individual eligibility and related timing considerations.

Compulsory vaccinations required for border entry from 1 November

Earlier this month the Ministry of Health announced that all non-New Zealand citizens aged 17 and over need to be “fully vaccinated” in order to enter New Zealand from 1 November 2021.  Note that even if a traveler holds New Zealand residence or permanent residence status, they will need to be fully vaccinated.  There is a list of approved vaccines (see below).  For visa holders, this requirement will apply to people entering the country even though they may have secured entry visas and MIQ vouchers before this announcement.

Travellers will now be screened for vaccination status upon registration for an MIQ space, prior to boarding their flight and by New Zealand Customs when they land.

While Lane Neave initially received advice from INZ that “mixed” vaccinations are not considered “fully vaccinated” for this purpose, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet have since advised that a combination of different (listed) acceptable vaccines is permitted as long as that was an approved course in the country that administered them.

Approved vaccines list

HIV treatment will no longer be considered a significant cost

HIV has long been a listed as an unacceptable health condition for the grant of temporary and resident visas without the requirement to secure a medical waiver to allow visa issue.  Historically this was due to the significant expense of ongoing treatment of the condition (it routinely used to cost the New Zealand Government in excess of $10,000 per annum in pharmaceutical costs).

For many years our firm has battled INZ on this position as the cost of treatment and management of the condition moved to a point where the costs associated now with ongoing treatment are typically nowhere near what they used to be, however, HIV remained on the list.

The announcement on 20 October that HIV will be removed as a condition that is automatically deemed an unacceptable health condition is therefore a welcome (but long overdue) change.

It should be noted however that when the condition is removed from the list of unacceptable health conditions, this does not mean that having the condition is irrelevant.  Like any underlying health condition under the residency settings, if INZ is of the view that the costs of treatment will be in excess of NZD41,000 for the life of the condition this can still mean a medical waiver would be required.

The assessment therefore is moving to a specific assessment of the individual concerned, so eligibility for a visa without the need for a medical waiver will come down to how well the condition is being managed and the actual cost of the pharmaceuticals required for ongoing management for the individual concerned.

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