New Zealand Borders Reopen To Over 60 Visa Waiver Countries

After allowing highly skilled workers and Working Holiday visa makers a few weeks ago, this week marks another major step towards a complete reopening of New Zealand, as the borders reopen to visitors from 60 visa waiver countries. The countries permitted that are known as ‘visa waiver countries’ include most of Europe and the Americas, as well as parts of Asia and the Middle East. Monday 2nd May saw Auckland and Christchurch airports welcome the reunion of many families who had not been able to see each other for over 2 years.

New Visa For Ukrainian Families

The New Zealand government has released a new temporary visa to help Ukrainians in New Zealand bring their family still in Ukraine to New Zealand.

Applications for the 2022 Special Ukraine Visa are open for 12 months from 15 March 2022.

Who is eligible for a 2022 Special Ukraine Visa?

To be eligible, you must have family members in New Zealand who are eligible to sponsor you.

You must be physically in Ukraine as at January 2022, and meet the usual and health and character requirements.

Who can be a sponsor?

Eligible family members in New Zealand can sponsor their:

  • parents
  • grandparents
  • siblings
  • adult children

Each of these applicants can include their partners and dependent children in their visa application.

To be eligible to sponsor, you must:

  • Be ordinarily resident in New Zealand
  • Be a New Zealand citizen or the holder of a current residence class visa
  • Have been born in Ukraine, or have held citizenship or be a permanent resident of Ukraine, and
  • Be an acceptable sponsor for a temporary visa.

Sponsors will be responsible for your accommodation and living expenses while in New Zealand.

New Zealand Borders Reopen To Skilled Workers

In line with step 2 of the Government’s staged approach to reopening NZ borders, skilled workers offshore may now seek a border exemption and Critical Purpose visa, subject to a job offer in New Zealand.

New workers

You will be deemed critical worker and qualify for a border exemption and Critical Purpose Visa if you are offered at least 1.5 times the median wage (NZD $84,240 a year or NZD $40.50 an hour) for a role longer than 6 months

The requirement to demonstrate that your skills are not readily obtainable in New Zealand has also been removed.

These workers may enter NZ with their partners and dependent children to take up employment.

Family reunification

In line with the criteria above, if you are currently working in New Zealand, earning at least 1.5 times the median wage, and your family has been unable to join you from offshore due to border restrictions, they may now seek a Critical Purpose Visa to travel to New Zealand.

Working Holiday Visas Reopen

As part of the 5-step approach to reopening NZ borders, the Government is reopening uncapped Working Holiday schemes from 14 March 2022. On 14 March 2022, the following working holiday schemes will open to applicants from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom, USA, Japan. All others will open on a rolling basis with all schemes to be reopened by 13 September 2022.

Immigration New Zealand is also reactivating certain Working Holiday visas granted prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Previously-granted Working Holiday visas

People granted Working Holiday Visa from offshore have been unable to enter New Zealand due to border restrictions. As part of the staged reopening of New Zealand borders, the Government is granting new Working Holiday Visas to about 19,500 people who:

  • were granted a Working Holiday Visa on or after 20 March 2019, and
  • are offshore and have been unable to enter New Zealand, and
  • have not subsequently been granted a new visa under a different category.


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