Reconnecting New Zealand

Reconnecting New Zealand is the Government's plan to safely re-open New Zealand’s borders and develop new ways for people to travel to and from New Zealand.

Three-step plan

The plan to reconnect New Zealand is comprised of a 3-step plan for travellers to enter without going into managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ), providing they meet prescribed health requirements.

Step one

Opening to fully vaccinated New Zealand citizens, residence-class visa holders and other travellers eligible for a border exception who are travelling from Australia from 11.59 pm on 16 January 2022 (provided they have been in Australia or New Zealand for the past 14 days).

Step two

Expanding to fully vaccinated New Zealand citizens, residence-class visa holders and other travellers eligible for a border exception, from all but Very High-Risk countries, from 11.59 pm on 13 February 2022.

Step three

Expanding to fully vaccinated foreign nationals via a staged opening, possibly by visa category, from 30 April 2022 onwards.

It is important to note that not all foreign nationals will be able to enter New Zealand from 30 April 2022.

FAQ

Will the border open on 30 April 2022 for everyone?

No. The reopening of the border will take some time, and the process is planned to begin from 30 April 2022.

The ability to travel will be staged, possibly by visa category and there is no timeframe yet for when people will be able to apply for a student visa. More information about when specific groups of migrants (such as international students) will be able to apply for visas to return to New Zealand will be announced in due course.

Until then, the current border settings will remain in place. This includes the inability of most people outside of New Zealand to apply for a visa, unless they have a border exception. The suspension of most offshore visa applications came into effect in August 2020. The Government may lift this suspension, in whole or in part, to align with the staging in Step 3 of the Reconnecting New Zealand plan.

Why is there a staged approach to opening the border?

While high levels of vaccination enable greater flexibility at the border, New Zealand still needs to take a cautious approach. As the Government grows the volume of arrivals, it needs to continue to manage public health risks and the potential for pressure on our health system, test our new domestic management systems, and understand other emerging risks (such as new variants).

When will we have some more information?

Ministers are working through options for phasing the re-opening of visa categories and visa processing priorities. More information about when international students will be able to return to New Zealand will be available once decisions have been made.

What about students already in New Zealand – can they leave and come back?

Not at this stage. The ability for existing visa holders to leave and return to New Zealand will be considered within the context of Step 3 staging. No decisions have been made on this yet.

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) realises that many students are desperate to see loved ones back home and that the last few years have been mentally and emotionally draining for many people. Unfortunately, students already in New Zealand who plan to travel home and then return in 2022, should know that there is no guarantee they will be able to return from April 2022. As the current settings stand, if they departed New Zealand they would require a border exception to come back.

What are the current settings?

The New Zealand border is currently closed to most travellers, and entry is strictly controlled to help manage the spread of Covid-19.

New Zealand citizens, residents and individuals with a border exception are permitted to travel. Currently, arrivals are required to spend time in Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ).

The offshore temporary entry class visa suspension (i.e. the inability for most visitors, students or workers to apply for a visa unless meeting border exception requirements) has been extended to August 2022. It is important to note that the Government may lift this suspension in whole, or in part, ahead of August in line with decisions on the staged border reopening.

Until Step three, the current border settings will remain in place which means only international students approved under a border exception are able to apply for student visas from offshore and travel to New Zealand at this time.

Further information

More information will be available once Ministers have made decisions on the phasing and staging of Step three – both for students offshore wanting to come to New Zealand, as well as current students in New Zealand who want to leave and come back.

The Immigration New Zealand website will be updated with more information on what the Reconnecting New Zealand plans means for international education. In the meantime, there is a brief explanation of the three steps here: Entering New Zealand without going through MIQ.