In a major move to ramp-up the shortage of work-force in the supermarkets, the Immigration New Zealand has just now issued a relaxation allowing international students to work full-time as a response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. 

Changes have been made to immigration instructions to relax visa restrictions for two groups of current supermarket employees for a period of 30 days vide Operational Manual: Amendment Circular No. 2020. 

 The instructions, along with allowing international students, who are mandated to work only 20 hours per week normally, to work full-time, also removes any restrictions on the work-visa holders already working in the supermarkets to work at an area beyond the scope of their original visa-restrictions. 

“Work visa holders to allow them to work in roles other than specified on their visa"

"student visa holders to allow them to work more than 20 hours per week"

 “These changes have been made in response to supermarkets experiencing immediate labour supply issues, particularly to meet the increased demand for shelf re-stocking, and their subsequent request to relax visa restrictions for migrant workers,” the new immigration instructions said. 

Key points

  • This decision only applies to those international students/work visa holders who are already employed and working in major supermarkets. 
  • The decision covers temporary workers from March -25 - April 25, 2020
  • The definition of ‘supermarket’ is tightly defined, limited to retailers selling primarily food and groceries, who are affiliated with Woolworths New Zealand or Foodstuffs Limited.