Ukrainians in New Zealand with visas due to expire by the end of this year will be given a year's extension, the immigration minister announced on Tuesday.
In a statement, Kris Faafoi said the government is putting in place fast-track measures to support Ukrainians to remain in New Zealand or to return immediately.
“Ukrainian nationals in New Zealand whose visas expire before the end of the year can remain here legally for a further 12 months to give them certainty at a time when their country is being invaded and they may not be able to return home," Faafoi said.
He said the latest figures show that about 300 Ukrainian citizens in New Zealand are on temporary visas with 140 expiring before the end of the year.
“Further, 250 or so Ukrainian citizens holding valid New Zealand visas offshore will now be able to enter New Zealand immediately without waiting for the borders to reopen, as long as they meet COVID-19 health requirements to travel," Faafoi added.
In a separate statement, the country's immigration service said the government is also considering further border exemptions for wider family members of Ukrainians in New Zealand, and prioritizing urgent visa applications from Ukrainian nationals.
The visa application center in Kyiv is currently closed, but individuals in Ukraine can apply for visas online.
Many countries have eased travel restrictions for Ukrainians fleeing the Russian war.
The EU has agreed to grant temporary residency to Ukrainians and give them access to employment, social welfare and housing for up to three years.
The UN estimates that more than 1.7 million people have fled Ukraine since Feb. 24 when Russia began its “special military operation” in the neighboring country.