Christchurch terror attack: Special permanent visa for affected families open

10:03 am on 24 April 2019

From today, those who were present at either mosque during the attacks and their immediate families can apply for a permanent resident visa.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway in RNZ's Auckland studio.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway Photo: RNZ

Immigration New Zealand has created a Christchurch Response 2019 visa category for those directly impacted by the shootings at Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Mosque on 15 March.

Applications to this special visa close on 23 April 2021.

The special circumstances mean the definition of "immediate family" also includes dependent children, someone's partner's parents and grandparents of children under 25.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway told Morning Report about 190 people would be eligible for the visa.

"The government just felt given the enormity of the circumstances, the fact that they were victims of a deliberate attack that was designed to cause maximum harm and trauma ... it's part of our response as a nation to give them the certainty about being able to live in New Zealand," he said.

He estimated a large number of people would want to take it up, but probably not everybody.

"We've left the application open for two years so that people can make the right decisions for their family."

The exceptions to the visa are if the applicant was a police first responder or emergency worker, in the country as a tourist, or was only visiting for a short time.

Immigration NZ would confirm those present at the mosque attacks by checking police records.

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