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Key Points

  • On July 7, 2021, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) announced that it will send refunds for 50,000 visa applications that were delayed during COVID-19 lockdowns
  • Refunds will be issued for visa applications that were fully backlogged (not processed in any capacity)
    INZ refunds will cover application fees and levies for lapsed applications
  • Additionally, INZ will refund temporary visa applications received from people outside New Zealand after August 10, 2020 (the date that offshore applications were halted). INZ will also return the application documents


Over the next few months, INZ will email eligible applicants and their representatives. For applications submitted online, INZ will refund credit card payments electronically. INZ may send additional refund request forms to confirm bank account information.

For third-party payments made on behalf of the applicant (i.e., by attorneys or representatives), INZ instructs these parties to make reimbursement arrangements with their clients. INZ cannot be held responsible for these negotiations.

If impacted foreign nationals wish to prepare new work visa or study applications, this refund will not affect those submissions.

Any foreign nationals whose visas were automatically extended during the pandemic will be contacted by INZ. These individuals will be able to withdraw or proceed in their applications.

What are the Changes?

The COVID-19 pandemic created significant processing delays for INZ. While INZ is streamlining efforts to tackle the backlog, these refunds offer consolation for long waits.

Looking Ahead

If backlogs persist, INZ may develop similar consolation programs and refund streams for foreign nationals. INZ is also developing technology to expedite visa processing times and increase overall efficiency. Employers with New Zealand-based talent should look out for any INZ communications.

Source: Immigration New Zealand Blog Post Release

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