Pressure increases to allow stranded skilled migrants to return to New Zealand as international removals and flights resume

The rush of New Zealanders heading back home amid the Covid-19 crisis has pushed the population over the 5 million threshold for the first time according to official government statistics released last week

New Zealand was regarded as a safe haven during the pandemic with early intervention being praised for preventing the virus getting a foothold in the country. It therefore came as no surprise that many of the estimated 100,000 Kiwis currently living and travelling overseas decided to return.

Many were young people being summoned home by worried parents, others had lost their jobs during the lockdown, but an increasing number decided that the culture and lifestyle of New Zealand offered more appealing long term prospects

Hope at last for other migrants and visa holders

Currently, with few exceptions, the only people being allowed into the country are New Zealand nationals and people holding a permanent resident visa. This hard line has led to criticism for prime minster, Jacinda Ardern as many stories of people on skilled migrant visas being stranded outside of the country.

However, Jacinda Ardern has given the first glimmers of hope that international students and other work visa holders will be allowed into New Zealand.

In an interview with Radio Tarana on Wednesday morning, Jacinda Ardern said, “The first thing we need to do is to make sure that those who have been separated from their lives here in New Zealand are able to come back in. So that’s a group I place our priority on and we’re working through that, and the second would be those who have a legal right to be able to work or study here.”

“So just making sure that we manage that return because we have got quarantine requirements, and we need to do that at the pace we can keep up those really strict quarantine requirements.”

This has been taken as a positive sign that skilled migrants who obtained a work visa but were unable to enter New Zealand before the lockdown, may be allowed to enter before international tourism is expected to resume sometime in 2021.

At PSS we have been exceptionally busy helping Kiwis with their shipping to New Zealand and look forward to being able to help other migrant too.

Skilled work visa holder stranded overseas

In recent weeks there have been an increasing number of stories relating to skilled migrants or people on temporary work visas who had been living and working in New Zealand but got locked out of the country when the border closed on 19th March.

Some temporary visa holders were visiting family or sick relatives, or attending weddings or funerals when the restrictions for non-citizens and residents suddenly came into force.

Carolina Zalazar and her 10-year-old daughter Martina were on a family holiday in Bali and have been trapped there ever since. Martina was born and lived all her life in New Zealand.

One family had returned to South Africa for a wedding and are now “living like nomads”, staying with different relatives and living out of their suitcases. “I’m willing to pay whatever cost is involved with self-quarantine or quarantine once we reach New Zealand,” the father of the family assured.

A number of New Zealand citizens and permanent residents have written an open letter to the Prime Minister and Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway, saying they want their families to come home.

The letter says: “Our families are stranded around the world, being denied entry into our home, to be part of our bubble. We are New Zealand citizens and New Zealand permanent residents wanting to be reunited with our life partners and children. We are New Zealand’s nurses, tradesmen, mental health professionals, scientists, tax advisors, musicians, teachers and civil servants. New Zealand is, and always will be, our home. At the moment we have no idea when we will be reunited with our loved ones. Our lives are on hold.”

First time entry skilled visas

Another group of migrants who are stranded overseas are those holding skilled work visas who are planning to move permanently to New Zealand but don’t yet have a permanent resident visa. Many of those were in the process of moving and had even sold their houses but have been stuck in limbo in the UK and other countries not knowing when they will be able to travel.

PSS has many such customers but there is hope now that there may be an end in sight for their frustrations.

When pressed on how soon students and work visa holders would be allowed back in, Ardern said “That’s something the Minister of Immigration is working through at the moment and I expect he’ll bring some proposals to cabinet.”

“So there’s a bit of sequencing that needs to go there in making sure that those who were already here who, for whatever reason, are stranded offshore are able to return home,” Ardern said.

“That’s something I want to get moving really quickly.”

Be prepared for your move to New Zealand

At PSS we have been busy helping many Kiwis move back home. We having been shipping boxes and baggage throughout the pandemic. Now as the lockdown is eased we have resumed our international removals service to New Zealand and other countries.

Although this is currently mainly limited to nationals and permanent residents, we highly recommend that other migrants begin their preparations. There is a lot of pent up demand so it is wise to get your removal quote and moving plans in place for when the borders open for other visa holders.

To do this safely we are currently offering home video surveys by a mobile app. This is a service our surveyors are very skilled and experienced at. It allows customers to show them exactly what they wish to take and so get a reliable quote whilst social distancing.

Our expert surveyors are also able to offer advice on what you can and can’t ship to New Zealand and also how you should prepare items to avoid potential problems with NZ customs and quarantine.

Whilst you may be required to enter quarantine for 14 days on arrival, you won’t want your belongings to be stuck there too!

Latest Update

At a press conference on Wednesday Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the fact there were fewer New Zealand citizens returning meant a solution would soon be possible for temporary migrants – with 14-day quarantine.

She also highlighted one exemption that was open to them without any need to apply for a ‘border exception’:

“If you are travelling with a New Zealander for instance they [the rules] even say you don’t necessarily seek exceptions you just need to travel with your partner.”

Economic development Minister Phil Twyford gave migrants further encouragement stating, “The decisions that I’ve been making on these exceptions to the border process, it’s a short term interim thing while the Government looks at the broader issue of border policies,” Twyford said.

“There’s work underway right now and we’ll be bringing a paper to Cabinet before long on a review of all of the settings around the border.”