Immigration New Zealand today released information about interim measures to assist essential workers during the Covid -19- response.  INZ will relax visa conditions for lockdown levels 4 and 3 and for six weeks thereafter.

Our opinion is that dairy farming falls under the definition of essential services.  The changes announced today may affect you and current or new staff members currently on a work visa:

  • If you have employees with essential skills work visas, you will be able to vary the employee’s hours or change their role within your current workplace.
  • Work visa holders in a specific occupation (eg dairy farm worker) can also change employers to perform their current role, however we are still awaiting clarity on whether essential workers are allowed to move between regions.
  • Any amendment to the employee’s conditions of work must still be compliant with normal NZ employment law.

Effectively what this means is that for the short term, farm workers will be able to move or within farm organisations or to new farms to perform “their current role”.  his could help significantly for the start of the next dairy season.

The methodology on how this will work on a practical level will be released soon.  Please contact us if you need assistance.

Other information is that the borders are effectively closed to ALL temporary work visa holders who left New Zealand on holiday or who had not yet entered New Zealand and who are not health workers.  If your worker is currently offshore it is likely that they will not be able to enter New Zealand until there is a relaxation of border conditions.  There are mechanisms for applying for such dispensation, but the current exemptions are for exceptional circumstances only.

Immigration New Zealand is changing its policies rapidly to keep up with Covid-19 response changes.  Contact us if you want further information on how these changes can affect you and your staff – we are in daily contact with Immigration New Zealand on these changes.

Vanessa Sharratt

Director and Licensed immigration adviser