Update - Wednesday 30 June 2020

COVID-19 Local Government Response Unit main page

Foreign Nationals Support Programme: messages, milestones and actions

Thank you for your support and patience in the establishment of the Assistance for Foreign Nationals Impacted by COVID-19 programme, which will go live from tomorrow Wednesday 1 July 2020.

This has been a great example of central and local government agencies working together, alongside New Zealand Red Cross, in short timeframes, to ensure that support will reach people who are eligible and most in need.

Attached, you will find a stakeholder briefing pack and FAQs for the Programme, including information on Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) visa holders and employers.  Immigration New Zealand will liaise directly with RSE employers.

Stakeholder briefing pack (PDF, 718KB)

Frequently asked questions (PDF, 199 KB)


Later this afternoon (30 June), DIA will be sending out a media release announcing that we are working with New Zealand Red Cross to deliver this programme

Tomorrow, New Zealand Red Cross will be sending a media release and commencing this work within our communities

From tomorrow, foreign nationals in serious hardship can check their eligibility and apply for in-kind assistance at 


The programme team will be sending you weekly updates, where relevant, as the programme progresses.

If you have any questions or need more information, do not hesitate to contact the DIA Programme Team at Foreign Nationals Support. This inbox will be monitored regularly.

Changes to the Border Control exceptions process for essential workers

Strict border restrictions, combined with continued stringent isolation/quarantine of all arrivals for 14 days, remain key to minimising the risk of introducing new cases of COVID-19 to New Zealand. 

The Department of Internal Affairs has been coordinating the application process for local government’s requests for exceptions to the border control restrictions for essential workers.

On 8 June 2020, Cabinet agreed to the exception process. Under this new process, Senior Immigration Officials at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) will be the new decision makers for critical worker exceptions.

MBIE have also changed the terminology used from “essential worker” to “critical worker”. This is to differentiate this process from the meaning of “essential worker” developed during Alert Level 4 and from the “essential skills” visa.

Under this new process, if you wish to submit a request for a worker to be approved as a critical worker for exemptions to border restrictions you should now submit these to Employer border exceptions.

A downloadable form for requests is available at the Immigration New Zealand website – you must fill in this form to describe how the worker meets the criteria and email this to the above address.

Immigration NZ intends to further automate this process from the end of July to include online applications.

You can find further information about the criteria for workers to be approved as a critical worker and how to apply at the Immigration New Zealand website.

MBIE has noted that a significant number of requests are being received and critical workers may not be able to travel on their preferred dates or to isolate at preferred locations. Travel dates and isolation will be dependent on the availability of managed isolation facilities.

Recovery Reference Group

The Recovery Reference Group’s meeting on 26 June was postponed to this Friday, 3 July. 
We will provide an overview the Reference Group meeting in our next update.