COVID-19: Government invests $37 million to help struggling foreign nationals

The initiative is run by the Department of Internal Affairs and the Red Cross.
The initiative is run by the Department of Internal Affairs and the Red Cross.

A $37.6 million programme is being launched to help people on temporary New Zealand visas who are experiencing serious hardship as a result of COVID-19.

From July 1 struggling foreign nationals can apply for assistance to meet basic needs such as food and accomodation.

Assistance may also be provided for:

  • Food and household goods
  • Blankets, hot water bottles and basic clothing
  • Over-the-counter medication 
  • Accommodation (including rent, boarding costs and rent arrears)
  • Utilities (electricity, gas). Excludes internet and broadband connection and plans
  • If required, prepaid phone cards to enable emergency communication and communication with consulate/embassy
  • Petrol/travel (limited to travel required to shift to new location for employment purposes or to an airport to leave New Zealand)

The programme is run by the Department of Internal Affairs (Te Tari Taiwhenua) and the Red Cross who will provide support directly to third parties. No cash payments will be offered.

"There are people in Aotearoa on temporary visas, who are unfortunately unable to meet their own basic needs and have exhausted all other options," says Internal Affairs deputy chief executive Maria Robertson.

"We are pleased to be working with New Zealand Red Cross to deliver temporary, in-kind assistance to eligible people across New Zealand, who have found themselves in a difficult position due to COVID-19."

Red Cross project lead Rachel O'Connor says the assistance will meet a "real and urgent humanitarian need".

"These are visitors in our home who we are pleased to work with Te Tari Taiwhenua to provide assistance to quickly, simply and with care."

The initiative is part of the Government's Assistance to Foreign Nationals Impacted by COVID-19 Programme which was announced earlier in June.

The programme will run for three months and people can check their eligibility online from Wednesday.