1 Apr 2021

Temporary immigration powers for minister to be extended to 2023

5:36 pm on 1 April 2021

The government is going to be extending temporary immigration powers to respond to Covid-19 until May 2023.

Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi.

Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi says the powers are needed for rapid decision making. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Those powers were due to expire next month, however, Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi has introduced a bill today to keep them in place.

They have so far been used 18 times, which has included extending family, worker and visitor visas.

Faafoi said it had been needed for rapid decision making.

"These decisions have provided more flexibility and certainty to visa holders and employers in New Zealand, and made more migrants available for industries facing labour shortages in a time when New Zealand's Covid-19 health response needed our borders to be closed," he said.

He said the extension until 2023 ensured the immigration system could continue to be responsive and flexible.

"More will be announced next week regarding a travel bubble with Australia and we continue to prepare for the eventual safe re-opening of our borders, but we know that Covid-19 is still widespread overseas, and it will take time for other countries to get the virus and its variants under control," he said.

Safeguards remained in place, such as ensuring the powers were only used for Covid-19 related matters and that changes did not disadvantage visa holders, he said.

The bill is expected to pass in May.

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