People fleeing Russia’s illegal war with Ukraine will have a new pathway to residency in New Zealand, the Government has announced.
It will be available for holders of the Special Ukraine Visa who have travelled to New Zealand before March 15 next year.
More than 1500 of those visas have been granted since March 15, 2022. About 720 people have travelled to New Zealand on the visa and about 340 were currently in the country with some visa holders yet to arrive.
To gain residence, visa holders would only be required to provide a limited medical certificate with normal character and identity checks still necessary.
A $1200 residence visa application fee would apply but applicants wouldn’t be charged an immigration levy.
Applicants would not need to sit English language tests, have access to suitable funds or require sponsorship.
“Many of those who sought safety here in New Zealand would never have anticipated being here long term, but as war continues we have a humanitarian obligation to provide certainty to them,” Immigration Minister Andrew Little said.
“The visa allows Ukrainians with close relatives who are New Zealand citizens or residents to come to New Zealand to shelter for two years.
“In line with similar countries who have already closed their temporary pathways, the Special Ukraine Visa will close to expressions of interest from new applicants after March 15, 2024.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta said the Government’s support of Ukraine demonstrated its advocacy for a “rules-based international system”.
“The conflict in Ukraine resonates deeply with us all. In launching this residence pathway, we are honouring our responsibility as global citizens, weaving together the threads of compassion, solidarity and kaitiakitanga, affirming our commitment to support those affected.”