Temporary Visa Holders experiencing serious hardship due to Covid-19 in New Zealand can now apply for urgent aid with Red Cross New Zealand from today. 

The ‘Assistance for Foreign Nationals impacted by COVID-19 Programme’ was announced by Foreign Minister Winston Peters and Minister for Community and Voluntary Sector, Poto Williams on June 16, last month to help foreign nationals who have exhausted their financial means of survival in the country due to Covid-19 and are in dire need of basic necessities. 

The Programme was allocated a fund of $37.6 million by the ministry that will run from July 1 for three months, administered by Department of Internal Affairs and delivered by a community-based NGO, which is Red Cross New Zealand for this Programme. 

“New Zealand Red Cross is scaling up at speed to address the urgent needs of people on temporary visas in Aotearoa New Zealand who are experiencing serious hardship due to COVID-19,” a press release from Red Cross New Zealand read. 

From today, people who are in need and on temporary visas can check their eligibility and apply through foreignnationals.services.govt.nz. 

Minister Peters had then said, foreign nationals should be seeking to depart New Zealand as soon as possible if they cannot support themselves here, and should contact their embassy, high commission or consulate for assistance in the first instance.

Where returning home isn’t immediately possible, assistance will be provided under the Programme to temporary visa holders where it has been established that:

  • the person is experiencing serious hardship, and
  • all other avenues of potential support have been exhausted, such as access to savings or other assets, insurance cover, consular assistance from their own foreign missions, or help from family and friends. 

Working with Te Tari Taiwhenua, Department of Internal Affairs, who is managing the New Zealand Government’s Foreign Nationals Impacted by COVID-19 Programme (known by New Zealand Red Cross as ‘Visitor Care Manaaki Manuhiri’), New Zealand Red Cross will deliver in-kind assistance to help foreign nationals meet basic needs, such as food and accommodation.

“We know that this in-kind, individualised, temporary assistance will meet a real and urgent humanitarian need in Aotearoa. These are visitors in our home who we are pleased to work with Te Tari Taiwhenua to provide assistance to quickly, simply and with care,” says Rachel O’Connor, Visitor Care Manaaki Manuhiri Project Lead for New Zealand Red Cross.

New Zealand Red Cross support will include needs assessments, local distribution of in-kind aid, psychosocial support, and engaging the community to ensure that our support is reaching the people who are eligible and most in need. 

“New Zealand Red Cross believes in humanity and impartiality, and in providing the support that is based on need and focused on upholding the dignity of the people we work with. As with everything New Zealand Red Cross does, the support New Zealand Red Cross provides will align with our Fundamental Principles,” the PR said.

Under programme Assistance for Foreign Nationals impacted by COVID-19 Programme’ assistance will be provided for:

  • food and household goods required to meet urgent and immediate needs
  • blankets, hot water bottles and basic clothing to meet urgent and immediate needs
  • over-the-counter medication to meet urgent and immediate needs
  • accommodation (including rent, boarding costs and rent arrears)
  • utilities (electricity, gas). Excludes internet and broadband connection and plans
  • if required, pre-paid phone cards to enable emergency communication and communication with consulate/embassy
  • petrol/travel (limited to travel required to shift to a new location for employment purposes or to the airport to leave New Zealand).

There will be no cash payments offered under this Programme, and only in-kind assistance will be provided. 

Temporary visa holders check their eligibility for this support on uniteforrecovery.govt.nz and apply through foreignnationals.services.govt.nz