Russia, Ukraine war: Government offers two-year visa to shelter 4000 family members of Ukrainians in New Zealand

Russia, Ukraine war: Government offers two-year visa to shelter 4000 family members of Ukrainians in New Zealand
Photo credit: Getty Images.

The Government will soon allow Ukrainian-born New Zealand citizens and residents to bring in members of their Ukrainian family whose lives are currently at risk due to Russia's invasion.

The 2022 Specical Ukraine Policy will be open for a year and will allow the roughly 1600 Ukrainian-born citizens and residents in New Zealand to sponsor parents, grandparents, adult siblings, adult children and their immediate family who are normally residents in Ukraine to shelter here.

The policy is estimated to benefit around 4000 people.

The successful applicants will receive a two-year work visa with working or studying rights and the ability for children to attend school. This will "help people escape the current conflict and to shelter here in the hope they can return home when the war ends," Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi says. 

"This builds on previous supports we have provided through our immigration system, which included extensions for Ukrainian nationals in New Zealand whose visas expire before the end of the year, and ensuring Ukrainian citizens holding valid New Zealand visas offshore can enter immediately without waiting for our borders to reopen."

Eligible sponsors are told they can now contact Immigration NZ (INZ), who will "prioritise sponsorship requests and visa applications". Once their visa is granted, the holder will have nine months to travel to New Zealand. 

It will be up to the sponsor to arrange and fund the travel as well as to provide accomodation and living costs. 

"INZ will quickly assess the sponsorship requests and then invite visa applications. Given the situation on the ground, applications can be completed by sponsors here and there will be a streamlined process for applicants. They will need to declare that they meet health and character requirements but documentation will not be required. No fees will be charged."

The minister said it's the latest action the Government is taking in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

"This is the largest special visa category we have ever established to support an international humanitarian effort and, alongside the additional $4 million in humanitarian funding also announced today, it adds to a number of measures we’ve already implemented to respond to the worsening situation in Ukraine," Faafoi said. 

"New Zealand has moved quickly to condemn the brutal and intolerable invasion of Ukraine. Alongside other diplomatic measures, we have acted urgently to respond to Russia’s hostility by instituting travel bans, export controls, passing the Russia Sanctions Act 2022, and providing aid funding to support crucial humanitarian work."

Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta on Tuesday also announced an additional $4 million in humanitarian aid on top of the initial $2 million. 

"Russia is causing a massive humanitarian crisis, with over 2.8 million people fleeing from the invasion in Ukraine to neighbouring countries," she said.

"Reports also show over 1.8 million internally displaced within Ukraine following Russia’s attacks on humanitarian corridors and the targeting of innocent people, hospitals, schools, homes and civilian infrastructure."

New Zealand will provide $2 million to the UN Ukraine Humanitarian Fund and $2 million to the UN Refugee Agency.