New Government proposals affecting most international travelers to New Zealand

On 15 June the Government announced proposals to change how people get permission to travel to New Zealand, what they will have to pay as visitors, and the fees and levies paid by visa applicants.

Anyone who is interested can read the proposals and give feedback to the Government before 5.00 pm on Friday 15 July 2018. The full proposals and links to submit feedback are on the MBIE website:

http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/border-changes

What are the proposals?

1. An International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy of $25 to $35 on most international visitors to NZ who plan to stay for 12 months or less. It will be collected as an extra cost on top of their visa or, for those who have a visa waiver, paid when they apply for an Electronic Travel Authority. It will not apply to:

  • Australian citizens and Australian permanent residents
  • People from Pacific Islands Forum countries, such as Tonga and Samoa
  • Those on diplomatic, military, medical and humanitarian visas
  • Those transiting NZ
  • Business Visitor visa and APEC Business Traveller Card holders
  • Children under two years old

2. The introduction of an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) similar to that employed by other countries such as Canada. Anyone who does not need to apply for a visa to come to NZ (except NZ citizens, NZ residents and Australian citizens) will fill out a simple form (similar to an arrival card) and pay a fee online (around $9) before travelling to NZ. An ETA will be valid for two years. If a traveller discloses certain criminal convictions or that they are travelling for medical care, they will require a visa.

3. A review of Immigration Fees and Levies. The Government proposes to adjust visa fees and remove the $20 discount for online applications. It also proposes to increase the employer accreditation fee.

Summary of proposed changes:

  • Work visas (excluding Recognised Seasonal Employers, Working Holiday and humanitarian work visas)   + 54%
  • Student visas – 6.5%
  • Group visitor visas    – 45%
  • Business visas     – 1%
  • Other visas   + 10%
  • Immigration levies   + 43%

If they become law, when would these changes happen?

The Government proposes to introduce the Visitor Levy and ETA in the second half of 2019. The new visa fee and levy rates are likely to come into effect in November 2018.

For further advice, please contact Shane Robinson or Scott Donaldson.

New Government proposals affecting international students and their families

On 2 June the Government announced proposals to change post-study work rights for international students. There is also a proposal to change work rights for their partners and study rights for dependent children.

Anyone who is interested can read the proposals and give feedback to the Government before 5.00 pm on Friday 29 June 2018. The full proposals and links to submit feedback are on the MBIE website:

http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/immigration/consultations/immigration-settings-for-international-students

Final changes will be announced in August 2018.

What are the proposals?

  1. To remove post-study employer assisted work visas entirely at all levels.
  2. To provide a one year post-study open work visa for non-degree courses (at or below level 7).
  3. To provide a three year post-study open work visa for degree courses (at or above level 7).
  4. To require students studying at non-degree level 7 (such as graduate diplomas) to study in New Zealand for at least two years to be entitled to post-study work visas.
  5. To change the requirements for a ‘Partner of a student’ work visa (which also allows the partner’s dependent children to qualify for fee-free compulsory schooling) to require the international student partner studying at level 8 or 9 to be studying in an area specified on the Long Term Skill Shortage List.

If the proposals become law, what will happen?

  • If you are studying a course of less than two years at non-degree level 7 or below, you won’t be able to get a post-study work visa.
  • If you are studying a course of at least two years at non-degree level 7 or below, you can get a one year post-study work visa.
  • If you are studying a course at degree level 7 or above, you can get a three year post-study work visa.
  • If you are the partner of an international student studying at level 7, 8 or 9, you will only be eligible for a ‘partner of a student work visa’ if that study is in an area specified on the Long Term Skill Shortage List. Without a ‘partner of a student work visa’, your children will not qualify as domestic students. They will have to pay international student fees unless they qualify in some other way.

What about those who are already here?

The Minister has said that any changes in work rights won’t affect those already here. They will affect students who come to NZ from 2019 onwards. That probably means that any student or post-study work visa applications from 2019 on will be affected.

For further advice, please contact Shane Robinson or Scott Donaldson.

What happens to our pets if I separate from my partner?

In most circumstances people are able to come to an agreement about who should keep the pets following a separation. However, if this is not the case then the pets are treated as family chattels and are subject to equal sharing rules under the Property (Relationships) Act. The Courts will decide on who is best suited to keep the pets, however this will depend on the particular facts of your situation.

For further advice, please make an appointment with Malcolm McKenzie or Scott Donaldson.

AML Compliance Coming

From 1 July 2018 we will be required to obtain more information from you.  This is part of Hewat Galt’s compliance with the Anti Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (AML/CFT).

The purpose of this Act is to prevent money laundering or the financing of any terrorism.  By asking you for more information, we are able to have more knowledge about the transactions we are undertaking on your behalf and we are able to ensure that we are not in breach of our requirements under the Act.  If we have reason to believe suspicion we are obligated to report this.

See further information here.

Does my name change if I get married?

If you get married, you can begin using your husband’s surname or continue using your original surname. An application for a legal name change is not required in either situation. For certain things (such as driver’s licences, passports, and the electoral roll) you may need to fill out an application form to update your details if you begin using your new surname. You will often need your marriage certificate as proof when filing these applications. Again, however, a legal name change is not required.

For further advice on this matter, please make an appointment with Scott Donaldson or Malcolm McKenzie.

I want to revoke my enduring power of attorney, do I need to tell my attorney?

We recommend that you notify your attorney if you wish to revoke your enduring power of attorney. Unless the attorney has been notified of the revocation, they may still act under the presumption that they have approval. It is best to seek further legal advice if you are considering revocation.

If you would like further advice regarding enduring powers of attorney, please make an appointment with Malcolm McKenzie or Scott Donaldson.

How do I appoint guardians for my children?

Your partner can be appointed as a guardian for your children upon application to the Family Court.

The acceptance of this application is subject to certain conditions:

  • The partner must have been sharing day-to-day care of the child for at least one year
  • Both parents must agree to the appointment of the guardian (unless one is deceased)
  • The partner must not have been involved in any proceedings relating to the harm of children, domestic violence, or care and protection proceedings

Testamentary guardians can also be appointed by the parent’s will upon their death. This appointment, however, is subject to challenge from other guardians of the child.

If you would like further advice regarding appointing a guardian for your child, please make an appointment with Scott Donaldson or Malcolm McKenzie.

How do I know if I’m in a de facto relationship?

Being in a de facto relationship can have various legal and financial implications, and is therefore an important thing to consider.

The broad meaning of the term, as outlined in the Property (Relationships) Act, is two adults living together as a couple. Whether or not you are living together as a couple will depend on many factors including the duration of the relationship, financial dependence, degree of commitment, care and support of children etc. While none of these elements are necessarily compulsory for a de facto relationship, they are all relevant considerations in determining whether the parties are fulfilling the requirement of living together as a couple.

If you would like further advice regarding the legal status of your relationship, and the implications that come with it, then please make an appointment with Scott Donaldson or Malcolm McKenzie.

Will my trust protect me from relationship property claims?

No. It is very dangerous to assume that assets held on trust are automatically protected from relationship property claims.

There are many situations in which an ex-partner may succeed in a relationship property claim against your trust assets. Most examples of this include some form of contribution or improvement to the assets made by the partner.

The best way to guarantee that your assets are protected from a relationship property claim is by entering into a property agreement. This provides certainty over which assets each party can claim upon any future relationship break-up.

If you would like further advice regarding relationship property, please make an appointment with Scott Donaldson or Malcolm McKenzie.