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.

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