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New Zealand border and visa updates in 2022, the year of the tiger

Update from Heartland Immigration

Welcome to 2022, the year of the tiger, and one in which we learn to live with, rather than against, Covid-19.  


The plan to reintegrate New Zealand back into the global community with changes to isolation, border exemptions and visas, in graduated steps has been announced. The need to remain flexible, react swiftly and understand the nuance of border and visa announcements continue; this is however the beginning of the end of New Zealand’s seclusion.


27 February 2022 – Mass MIQ ends 

As of 28 February 2022 New Zealanders, Australians and New Zealand permanent residents who normally reside in New Zealand, and other critical workers in Australia holding New Zealand border exemptions, plus approved family members, are able to home isolate when they travel from Australia. Thus avoiding the government supervised stay in a hotel and most significantly the lottery system of attempting to book a MIQ stay in line with travel plans. 


The days of mass MIQ are over.


01 March 2022  – Phase two 2021 Residence Visa

The remainder, second phase, of eligible work visa holders for the 2021 Residence Visa opens.


Tempting as it is to be “one of the first” that can’t be a reality for most. On day one of the first phase the Immigration New Zealand’s (INZ) Online system crashed; the prepared won’t miss out but not every application will be able to be lodged in the first few days of March 2022. Patience is required and the need to ensure time sensitive documentation necessary for the individual’s unique situation is available. 


This is a one off opportunity to get it right and where a Licensed Immigration Adviser dedicated to an individual’s particular situation will reduce stress, provide confidence and ensure the best visa outcome.  There are no second chances with this opportunity.


13 March 2022  Border exemptions begin to relax 

From 14th March 2022 the home isolation from anywhere in the world extends to the earlier groups and anyone holding a border exemption and visa is able to enter and take advantage of home isolation. The criteria for border exemption relaxes further, income level reduces to $84,240 per annum. 


Most excitingly some of the Working Holiday Schemes reopens and while we have yet to obtain full details this will be without MIQ.  An enormous step as they are the first mass group of visa required folk, in two years, that won’t require a border exemption. The real beginning of the flow of international arrivals. 


I have always been a great fan of the working holiday as these young people fill gaps in horticulture, hospitality and all manner of skill roles while out and about being tourists. A hundred thousand welcomes. Nau mai haere mai.


12 April 2022   International students 

13th April 2022 will allow valid visa holders who still meet their visa conditions and are offshore, along with 50,000 student visas the ability to enter New Zealand. Border exemption rules relax further, the $84,240 per annum minimum is eliminated, while the criteria for student visas is yet to come.


09 May 2022   Employer Accreditation applications opens

Employers of migrant workers are able to apply for Employer Accreditation. Promised to be smooth and quick. I doubt it will be, however, help including HR and H&S is available at Heartland Immigration for our valued employers who could be overwhelmed with red tape.


July 2022  Employer Accreditation mandatory & further border rules ease

All travelers from Australia are able to home isolate and visa-waiver travelers can begin traveling to New Zealand.  They are nationals from countries New Zealand has entered into a receptacle agreement to grant visitor visas on arrival without the need for a visa prior to travel under specific conditions. INZ do need to process visa applications for this category which clearly has made this a favorable option to introduce.  Tough on employers who are desperate for staff and so very difficult for split families.


The Accredited Employer work visa applications for those in and out of New Zealand commences whereby employers of migrant staff must hold accreditation to support a work visa.  Thus allowing significant numbers of visa holders to travel to New Zealand however I would caution this is subject to INZ ability to timely process employer accreditation and individual work visas applications. 


August 2022   Residence Visas

The Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) of residence is due to reopen and the new work to residence program to be introduced.  The criteria change forecasted has much focus on the salary however the devil is always in the detail.


October 2022  Standard border and visa rules returns 



Migrants check if you or your colleagues, friends or family in New Zealand have been assessed for the 2021 Residence Visa. Are you or they skilled, settled or scarce, or lodging an application? Ensure you know exactly what you should be doing.


Employers check that any migrant staff have been assessed for the 2021 Residence Visa, revisit your staffing requirements, anticipate when you will need to support a migrant’s work visa application. Continue to be prepared for delays at the border and at Immigration New Zealand.


If Heartland Immigration can be of service please don’t hesitate to contact us. We are here to help.


For all of us vaccination certificates, testing requirements, the sudden need to change arrangements along with vaccination passports for our international travel are our normal. 


Keep safe


Disclaimer: Mary Noonan is Heartland Immigration Ltd’s Managing Director. Her views expressed in this article are not intended to replace the professional service provided to individual migrants by a Licensed or Registered Immigration Adviser or Migration Agent.