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2021 Interim Visa: The 5 Risks You Need to Know

01 December 2021

Updated on 27 Oct 2022

Immigration New Zealand is making changes to 2021 Interim Visa (21IV):

  • 21IV holders can now request a visa to travel outside of New Zealand and return. INZ will continue to process their 2021 Resident Visa while they are overseas. 
  • They can also apply for a Variation of Conditions if they wish to change employment.

More information here.

During the last week of November 2021, Immigration New Zealand introduced the 2021 Interim Visa (21IV). Devised for 2021 Resident Visa applicants, this brand new interim visa may be granted automatically to migrants who:

  • Have applied for a 2021 Resident Visa (21RV)
  • Hold temporary visas that will expire before their 21RV application is decided

Never before has an interim visa been introduced ahead of a residence application. However, just because this 21IV offers migrants a new opportunity, does not mean that it presents migrants with the right opportunity for their unique immigration situation. 

In fact, there are a number of potential issues that migrants like you must be aware of:

1. You cannot appeal against the decision not to be granted a 21IV. 

Although the eligibility requirements of the 21IV are clear, INZ has stated that “whether or not to grant a 2021 interim visa to any person is a matter for the absolute discretion of the Minister of Immigration or the relevant immigration officer.” And depending on what that decision is, if said case officer makes the decision not to grant you a 2021 interim visa, you have no right to appeal.

2. You cannot travel in and out of NZ while on the 21IV. 

When this category was announced, INZ had said that you if you leave NZ while your 21RV is still being assessed, then this assessment will cease upon your departure and restart when you return. This was later changed (in December 2021) and the current situation is that you can leave NZ while your RV is under process and if it is approved while you are offshore, you can come back on this newly granted resident visa. But if you leave the country while you hold this 21 Interim Visa, you will be unable to return to NZ until the 21RV is approved (as interim visa will automatically cancel upon your exit from NZ).

3. The 21IV freezes your current visa conditions. 

This might actually be advantageous for those of you on an (open) post-study work visa. However for others, who are on visas like Essential Skills or a Work to Residence this freeze could severely limit your options. After all, you would be unable to change position, employer or location for as long as you remain on this interim visa.

4. You cannot apply for any other visa or vary your conditions while you are on a 21IV. 

Ordinarily, if you were on an Essential Skills, Work to Residence, or other temporary work visa and you wanted to change position, you could apply for a variation of conditions. That is not possible on the interim visa. Similarly, you are not allowed to apply for any other visa with different rights. So, if you are currently on a student visa, and your 21IV is granted while you are on said student visa, you will not be able to apply for any sort of temporary work visa while you remain on this interim visa.

5. If your 21RV is declined, you have only two months to leave the country.

You will have the right to appeal to the Immigration Protection Tribunal should your 21RV application be declined. However, if your 21RV is declined while you are on a 21IV, then your interim visa will expire two months after the date of the decline. Therefore, you will become unlawful after two months unless you leave the country.

The 2021 Interim Visa Is Not the Best Option for Everyone

There is never a one-size-fits-all approach within the world of NZ immigration. The same is true for the 2021 Interim Visa. For some of you, it might present a great opportunity. For others, it might greatly inhibit you over the next 12 months, and for that reason you might be better off applying for a further temporary visa while you await the decision around your 21RV.

Not sure which option is best for you? Let’s talk - we’re here to help you understand your options and select the pathway that makes the most sense for your individual needs.

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