Over 12000 visas extended to protect visitors from 'worrying situations in their home countries'

 Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi says visitors still need to pay their own way.
Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi says visitors still need to pay their own way. Photo credit: Newshub.

People in New Zealand on visitor visas will be able to extend their stay as the Government takes pity on those who have COVID-19 running rampant in their home countries.

Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi said the Government recognises some visitors are keen to stay longer as the pandemic rages in their countries of origin.

"Where people are here on visitor visas which expire on or before 31 March 2021, the Government will allow their visitor visas to be automatically extended by two months. During that two month extension, which will be applied from the date of expiry on their current visa, they will need to apply for a new visa to stay longer," said Faafoi on Friday. 

This exception will apply to around 12500 visa holders.

Faafoi also announced a second change - a rule which meant visa holders could only be in New Zealand for nine months of an 18 month period has been scrapped.

"Most visa holders currently in New Zealand will have been here for more than nine months by now, which would have excluded them from applying for another visitor visa," he said.

"Waiving this nine months of 18 rule means that visa holders who are still here can apply for a further six-month visa."

Although the Government is being lenient by extending visas, Faafoi said he wants it to be clear all visitors are expected to be in the country and support themselves.

"People who are here on visitor visas are here as guests for a limited time. We cannot guarantee further extensions or waivers when these changes expire."