COVID-19 Update – Emergency benefit for temporary visa holders

Tuesday 15 December 2020

On 20 November 2020, the Government announced an Emergency Benefit to help temporary visa holders.  Full information regarding this benefit can be seen on the Work and Income website:

Eligibility information

  • To be eligible for an Emergency Benefit, a temporary visa holder needs:
    • a current temporary NZ visa such as a visitor, student or work visa
    • to be 16 years or older 
    • to be in current financial hardship, with no other means of support (other than funds to purchase a flight home)
    • to be taking all reasonable steps to find other means of support including work, consular assistance, support from family, friends and organisations in NZ or overseas and arranging to return home on commercial or repatriation flights as soon as they can
    • a New Zealand bank account and Inland Revenue number
    • their passport
  • Eligibility will also depend on a person’s income and assets.

Emergency Benefit information

  • From 1 December, people on student, temporary work or visitor visas who can’t support themselves and can’t return home due to COVID-19 may get an Emergency Benefit from Work and Income at the Ministry of Social Development.
  • The Emergency Benefit will be available for eligible temporary visa holders for a limited time from 1 December to 28 February 2021.
  • You will have been aware of previous hardship funds made available this year for international students through Education NZ and the NZ Red Cross. Those funds are no longer available. Any access to those funds does not affect potential support through the Emergency Benefit.
  • International students in New Zealand on sponsored visas or with a sponsored condition on their visa are not eligible for this benefit.
  • The Emergency Benefit may help people with their basic living costs who can’t support themselves and can’t return home because of COVID-19.  
  • Temporary visa holders on the Emergency Benefit need to keep looking for work or other ways to support themselves, including making arrangements to return home as soon as practicable. 
  • Wherever possible, the Ministry of Social Development will connect temporary visa holders with temporary or seasonal work opportunities and information.
  • To apply, people should visit Work and Income at a Ministry of Social Development office on or after 1 December and make an appointment.  Applications must be made in person, not online or over the phone.

Things change quickly so stay up to date by following the links below:

For health advice, please refer to the Ministry of Health’s website.

To keep updated on travel restrictions and visa information visit