WELLINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - New Zealand will fully reopen its border two months early, allowing the arrival of tourists, students and migrants from non visa-waiver countries like China and India.
The border will be accessible to all from 11.59pm on July 31, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Wednesday (May 11).
Previously, the government had said the final re-opening step would occur in October, though it signalled the date would likely be brought forward. The maritime border will also open for cruise ships on July 31.
New Zealand has been progressively allowing foreign visitors to return this year, hoping to revive a decimated tourist industry and add workers to a labor market battling with skills shortages. Visitors from visa-waiver countries such as Singapore, the US, Britain, Canada and Germany were able to enter from May 2, while Australians could arrive from April 13.
The government is optimistic the full reopening will kick-start demand for the peak spring and summer tourist seasons although China’s border remains closed, making it difficult for its citizens to travel internationally.
“New Zealand is in demand and now fully open for business,” Ms Ardern said. “We know a major constraint on business is access to skilled labour. This plan will increase the available pool of labor, while also speeding up our tourism recovery.”
Ms Ardern announced plans to speed up immigration processes to allow in more essential workers.
The government is rebalancing its immigration settings to allow businesses to access the skills they need, while encouraging a move away from an over-reliance on lower-skilled migrant workers, Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi said.
It will provide a new streamlined path to residency for highly skilled workers in 85 hard-to-fill roles across the construction, engineering, trades, health and technology industries.
“Our rebalanced immigration system will be simpler, reducing categories, bringing more online accessibility and streamlining application processes for businesses,” Mr Faafoi said. “Employers won’t need to provide as much information, can use their own recruitment processes to prove no New Zealanders are available for work, and Immigration New Zealand will endeavour to have these visas processed within 30 days once an employer is accredited.”
The government also announced that 20,000 foreign workers with visas expiring before 2023 are being granted either a six-month extension or a new two-year visa with open work conditions, so their skills can be retained.