26 Aug 2023

New residence pathway for Special Ukraine Visa holders in NZ

1:35 pm on 26 August 2023
Immigration Minister Andrew Little speaking about new residence pathway for Special Ukraine Visa holders in NZ.

Immigration Minister Andrew Little Photo: RNZ / Lucy Xia

The government has announced a new residence pathway that will be available to some holders of Special Ukraine Visas.

It will be available where the principal applicant was granted a Special Ukraine Visa and travelled to New Zealand before 15 March 2024.

In a statement, Immigration Minister Andrew Little said New Zealand had a humanitarian obligation to provide some certainty to those who sought safety in this country as the war in Ukraine continued.

The government would be making it as simple as possible to apply for the residence pathway, Little said.

The Special Ukraine Visa first opened for applications for 12 months from 15 March 2022, as part of the government's response to Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine. It was later extended another 12 months to 15 March 2024.

Little said the visa allowed Ukrainians with close relatives who were New Zealand citizens or residents to come to this country and shelter for two years.

"New Zealand is a peaceful country, and we are enriched by the Ukrainians who wish to make New Zealand their home permanently," he said.

"We know that some have come here, quite like being here, want some certainty ... so this [residency pathway] will give them certainty so they can put down their roots."

As of 20 August 2023, about 1510 Special Ukraine Visas had been granted and about 340 special category visa holders are currently in New Zealand. Some had arrived but subsequently left to be in countries closer to home or moved to other visas.

Little said the maximum number of residencies under this pathway that New Zealand could issue was 1500, but he did not think all of them would want to apply for residency. He estimated that the final number of residencies issued may be closer to the hundreds.

Special Ukraine Visa applicants had slowed to almost zero in the past two to three months.

"What we're seeing is even though war is continuing, those who are seeking security outside of Ukraine are doing so closer to Ukraine. People come here because they have family connections here, or they have people willing to support and sponsor them here. We're not expecting a big uptick in further applications," Little said.

The total cost of support from New Zealand for Ukraine since the war broke out was about $82 million, including humanitarian support, military support, and support for the International Criminal Court as they conducted investigations into war crimes, he said.

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