Immigration New Zealand (INZ) will resume processing offshore residence applications received prior to the border closure in March 2020.

Around 2,300 residence applications across all categories which had been received prior to the border closure remain to be decided.

As a result of the border restrictions imposed last year because of COVID-19, processing of most visa applications offshore was halted.

INZ had already resumed processing, but not deciding, offshore applications for selected visa categories. This approach was to make progress on applications so that decisions can be made faster once border restrictions are lifted.

But in a recent court case it was ruled that the processing of residence applications submitted offshore while the border was still open should be completed, on the grounds that border instructions in force at the time the applications were submitted did not contain any border restrictions on residence visa holders.

INZ was carrying out the Government’s policy intent to impose border restrictions because of COVID-19, but following this decision will now complete processing residence applications from offshore. These will be decided in the order they were received and INZ will contact applicants shortly to update them.

Around 4,000 people offshore who already hold resident visas but who were not able to travel are also covered by the High Court decision.  This means these visa holders can now come here if they meet Air Border Order requirements (such as holding vouchers for Managed Isolation and Quarantine and undertaking pre departure tests). Those granted a visa under the 2021 Resident Visa category will also be able to travel to New Zealand if they are granted their visa while overseas.

People eligible to travel to New Zealand must still secure a spot in Managed Isolation and Quarantine. Those who travel later in 2022 may be able to enter without quarantining, depending on the border restrictions in place.