On 5 May 2020, the Immigration (COVID-19 Response) Amendment Bill (243—1) was introduced into parliament. The Bill amends the Immigration Act 2009. The Bill also aims to ensure that the government can respond appropriately and efficiently to the COVID-19 outbreak by providing additional flexibility in the immigration system. It does this by introducing eight time-limited powers as follows:
the power to vary or cancel conditions for classes of resident class visa holders
the power to impose, vary or cancel conditions for classes of temporary entry class visa holders
the power to waive any regulatory requirements for certain classes of applications
the power to grant visas to individuals and classes of people in the absence of an application
the power to extend the expiry dates of visas for classes of people
the power to waive the requirement to obtain a transit visa in an individual case
the power to revoke the entry permission of a person who has been deemed by regulations to hold a visa and to have been granted entry permission, and
the power to suspend the ability of classes of people to make applications for visas or submit expressions of interest in applying for visas.
These powers will enable the government to amend visa conditions for large groups of people, extend visas of large groups of people for varying periods of time (enabling processing to be staggered), stop people overseas from making applications while it is not possible to travel to New Zealand due to border restrictions, and refuse entry to certain people with deemed entry permission to prevent them from entering New Zealand while border restrictions are in place.
The Bill comes into force on the day after the date on which it receives the Royal assent. The amendments made by the Bill will be repealed 12 months after the Bill comes into force. Each of the amendments has a provision to this effect.
Information reproduced with permission of Wolters Kluwer NZ.