Automatic visa extensions to be issued

7:56 pm on 23 February 2011

Immigration New Zealand is issuing automatic six-month visa extensions for foreign nationals whose work, visitor or student visa applications cannot be processed due to a powerful earthquake in Christchurch.

The shallow 6.3-magnitude quake struck at 12.51pm on Tuesday, 10km south-east of the central city, causing many deaths and widespread devastation.

Immigration's Christchurch office is off-limits for safety reasons, but it is currently handling 2000 temporary visa applications.

Immigration Minister Jonathan Coleman has issued a special direction, meaning anyone who is in New Zealand legally and whose application is caught up in the Christchurch office will be issued a six-month interim visa.

Visitors whose travel plans have been disrupted by the quake will also be granted a visa extention to allow them to remain in New Zealand legally for the reasonable duration of their visit.