Immigration pathway for Ukrainians extended

  • 2022 Special Ukraine Visa application window extended to 15 March 2024
  • Travel period extended from nine to 12 months
  • Introduction of an ‘acceptable sponsor’ who is not necessarily the ‘nominating family member’ willing to take on financial and other obligations

One year since Russia launched its illegal war against Ukraine, the Government is expanding the 2022 Special Ukraine Visa to further support those impacted by the war Immigration Minister Michael Wood has announced.

“We recognise the impact the ongoing conflict in Ukraine has on its people, and the efforts of Aotearoa New Zealand’s Ukraine community to support their family members,” Michael Wood said.

“The Special Ukraine Visa was scheduled to close to new Expressions of Interest on 15 March 2023, however given the conflict is ongoing, it is appropriate that New Zealand continues to allow this pathway for families of Ukrainians in New Zealand.

The Government is extending the window to submit an Expression of Interest to 15 March 2024, along with extending the period allowed for travel to New Zealand from nine to 12 months and expands eligibility criteria.

“These changes give clarity to members of New Zealand’s Ukraine community who still want to bring their family members here,” Michael Wood said.

“Extending the travel window for future applicants from nine to 12 months after receiving the visa recognises that securing travel options is currently difficult and this change will assist Ukrainians in reaching New Zealand when it is suitable and possible for them to do so.

The Government is also changing the way sponsorship works for the 2022 Special Ukraine Visa.

“Rather than relying on one family sponsor, each application will have a ‘nominating family member’ who meets the New Zealand and Ukrainian residency requirements and an ‘acceptable sponsor’ who would take on financial responsibility for the applicant – the sponsor could be the same person as the nominating family member, or could be a separate person or entity willing to take on the financial obligations,” Michael Wood said.

“We’re broadening the criteria for those who can nominate a family member to include those with Ukrainian heritage to expand the pool of eligible New Zealand residents or citizens who may want to support their family members in Ukraine to come to New Zealand.

“Those who can be sponsored under the category is also expanding to include other adult family members who have lived with the family for a substantial period of time. This could be aunts, uncles, grandchildren, nieces and nephews first cousins and stepsiblings.

“The changes are unique to this visa and recognise New Zealand’s ongoing commitment to support Ukraine.

“We acknowledge advocacy from Mahi for Ukraine who have and continue to support their whanau and community through the conflict, both here New Zealand and in Ukraine,” Michael Wood said. 

 Additional information:

The government will continue to waive immigration fees to ensure immigration costs are not a barrier for eligible people.

There will be no changes to the process regarding how expressions of interest are submitted or applications are made.

Recognising the difficulties some people will face securing documentation in a war zone, for example around police and medical certificates, the visa will continue to operate on a high trust basis.

 2022 Special Ukraine visa holders have access to publicly funded healthcare, and children are able to attend school as domestic students, while adults are able to access free English-language classes.

 Special visa holders are encouraged to take up the free one-off health assessment that has been established by the Ministry of Health and Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand.

 Expressions of interest will remain open for a further year. From 15 March, visas granted will have a longer window of travel. From 27 March people can submit expressions of interest under the expanded sponsorship criteria.