People present during the Christchurch terrorist attacks and their immediate families can apply for a special permanent resident visa from today.

Called the Christchurch Response (2019) visa, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) announced the special visa category on their website yesterday.

The visa can be applied for by the people present at the Masjid Al Noor or Linwood mosques while they were attacked on March 15.

Immediate family members of someone who was involved in the shooting attacks are also able to apply for the visa.

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However, applications must have been living in New Zealand on March 15 when the attacks took place.

Last month, it was reported priority visa processing would be given to the families of those killed or injured in the attacks following March 15.

Acting head of Immigration Steve McGill said the agency recognised this was "an incredibly difficult time" for those affected, which included people both here in New Zealand and overseas.

Many of the 50 people killed in New Zealand's worst terrorist attack were foreign nationals with families who are here on temporary visas.

"INZ wants to make things as easy as possible for families to come to New Zealand to lay their loved ones to rest or to support their family members who have been injured," McGill said.

"These are unprecedented circumstances for everyone and INZ is committed to ensuring we do everything we can to support those who have been affected and make the visa application process as smooth as possible."

Applications will be checked by INZ to see if they were present during the attacks by going through the official New Zealand Police list of those involved.

Meanwhile, police first responders or emergency workers, tourists, or those visiting the country for a short time will not be given the visa, INZ said.

Those wishing to apply for the visa can lodge their application today and must apply before April 24, 2021.

To find out more about the special visa, more information can be found on the INZ website.