Interim Visas - Good Safety Net?

Posted:  15 January 2015

 

In 2011, the concept of interim visas was introduced in New Zealand.  More than 4 years have now passed, and it is time to assess whether they really serve their purpose as “bridging” visas.

 

Generally, an interim visa is given to applicants who already have a visa in New Zealand, but are applying for a new visa.  During the time that the new application is being assessed, the interim visa serves as a “bridge” to allow the applicant to remain lawfully in New Zealand, even if their old visa has expired while the application is in process.  
 
For example, if an application is made just before the expiry of the applicant’s visa, the interim visa will operate to prevent the applicant from becoming an overstayer while the application is in progress.  

So the question is, do interim visas really work as “safety nets” to assist applicants remain lawful in New Zealand?  Yes and no.

 

Interim visas only really achieve their purpose when the application is approved.  For example, a typical way in which the interim visa would be useful would be in the following scenario:
  

  • Applicant’s work visa expires on 31 August 2014.  

  • Applicant applies for new work visa on 28 August 2014.  

  • Obtain interim visa (generally automatically granted).

  • On 21 September 2014, new work visa is granted.  Interim visa expires automatically.

 

With the above example, there is no “overstay” period even though the applicant’s visa expired during the time that the application was in progress.  This is an improvement over the pre-2011 situation.

However, if the temporary visa is declined, the interim visa is a false safety net.  It does not assist the applicant at all.  Taking a similar example:

 

  • Applicant’s work visa expires on 31 August 2014.

  • Applicant applies for new work visa on 28 August 2014.

  • Obtain interim visa.

  • On 21 September 2014, new work visa is declined.  Interim visa expires automatically.

  • Applicant becomes unlawful in New Zealand.

 

Becoming unlawful is an extremely unfavourable situation.  Many rights are lost including the right to apply for a reconsideration, or even applying for any “normal” temporary visas.  
 

Solution?  Do not rely on interim visas.  Apply for a short-duration visa such as a visitor visa.  Want to know what your options are?  Contact us.

 

 

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