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Interim visas will soon be extended to continue after a visa decline or withdrawal for a further 21 days. Interim visas will still continue to be valid for up to 6 months until a visa is granted, but will soon no longer end upon decline of visa.

Interim visas are  granted when a visa application has been made and the applicant’s visa expires, to allow the applicant to remain lawfully in New Zealand while the visa application is processing.

In cases where the applicant is already on a work visa for an employer and applying for a visa to continue work for the same employer, the interim visa allows them to continue working.

Similarly, for open work visas of the same type (such as partnership), the visa holder’s interim visa will serve as an extended open work visa.

However, in other cases, such as where the applicant is changing employers, going from study to work, or changing from an open work visa to an employer-specific work visa, the interim visa has visitor visa conditions, meaning they cannot work.

Interim visas are not an automatic right, and by law, grant is a matter of absolute discretion. However in most cases an interim visa will be automatically be granted so long as the applicant

  1. has a temporary visa when they apply;
  2. has applied for a further temporary visa (residence applications don’t count) and
  3. is in New Zealand

Therefore many applicants rely on getting an interim visa to remain in the country while their application is processing.

An interim visa cannot be granted in certain circumstances, such as where a person has alerts or character-related warnings, is liable for deportation or under compliance proceedings.

Under the current policy, if you are on an interim visa and the visa you have applied for is declined, you will immediately become unlawful, or sometimes after 1 or 2 days. No further visa applications can be made while in the country but you could immediately make a special request under Section 61 (unless you appeal against deportation or make a refugee/protected person claim).

This meant that many applicants whose visa is declined, even unfairly, become unlawful which could jeopardise future visas and leaves them liable for deportation, generally 42 days from the decline.

The policy change will allow people whose visas are declined to remain lawful for a further 21 days However, they will not be allowed to make any further visa application while on an interim visa.

It  appears then the effect of the policy change is to allow those who have declined a visa to manage their affairs and prepare to leave the country. This may also give people a last chance to enjoy travelling around the country or possibly continue working without fear of deportation. Further visa applications (besides s61 requests) would need to be made when offshore.

If they still become unlawful in New Zealand and believe there are special circumstances they request visas under section 61. Section 61 requests are treated with absolute discretion and don’t even have to be considered.

The policy changes come into effect on 27 August 2018.

For assistance with temporary visa applications or Section 61 requests, contact us!


Immigration Centre Team