Updates and information from New Zealand for international students regarding classes, international travel, visa extensions, work permits, healthcare, amid COVID-19
From Tuesday 24 March, early learning services, schools and kura were closed for most students. School holidays started from 30 March to 14 April inclusive. During the holiday break, the Ministry of Education will support schools to develop e-learning and other distance learning options for Term 2. Tertiary providers are moving to full distance learning as quickly as possible.
Under Alert Level 4, international students are able to leave New Zealand on scheduled commercial or foreign-government assisted charter flights to their home countries. International students are eligible for free, public healthcare if they think they have COVID-19.
International students with valid international flight tickets to depart New Zealand (from Auckland or Christchurch airports) can travel to these cities by:
* a single flight (commercial or chartered)
* private transport such as cars
* non-private transport such as taxis, rideshare, public transport, rental or charter vehicles.
Students travelling to airports must follow existing health and safety advice regarding COVID-19. These measures include ensuring 2 metres distance between people, coughing/sneezing into your elbow, and washing and drying hands often. Education providers who are assisting international students with flights must meet their duty of care obligations towards students.
The New Zealand Government has a wage subsidy available to support employers and their employees affected by COVID-19. International students whose visa allows them to work in New Zealand and whose employment has been affected by COVID-19 are advised to check with their employer whether they are eligible for a wage subsidy.
On top of COVID-19 related applications, Immigration New Zealand will now start prioritising the processing of some visa categories for applicants in New Zealand. These include:
* Full fee paying student visas.
* Post study work visas.
* Partnership category temporary visas (including reassessments).
* Visa applications for victims of domestic violence.
The Government is extending visas of temporary migrants in New Zealand, including international students, to ensure that there is some certainty for them as they face the challenges of being in a foreign country at this extraordinary time.
International students in New Zealand with visas expiring between 2 April and 9 July 2020 will have their visas automatically extended to 25 September 2020 at no additional cost. Confirmation of extensions will be emailed to all visa holders. The visa extension also applies to NZeTA holders, who are issued a three-month visitor visa on arrival into New Zealand. Visitor visas of NZeTA holders will be extended to 25 September 2020 (the same as those who are on visitor visas).
The New Zealand Government’s decision to relax visa conditions for a short period to allow international students to further assist with essential services (including in aged care) during the COVID-19 response comes into effect from 16 April 2020.
* Students employed by supermarkets will be able to work for more than 20 hours per week until 25 April 2020.
* Students employed in the healthcare sector, including aged residential care, will be able to work for more than 20 hours per week until 03 July 2020.
* Students will need to discuss these plans with their education provider as they still must meet the study requirements of their student visas.