Emergency benefit and international students

From 1 December 2020, people on temporary work, student or visitor visas who can’t return home and can’t support themselves due to the impacts of COVID-19 may get an Emergency Benefit from the Ministry of Social Development, and Employment.

Full details about the Emergency Benefit – Work and Income

Eligibility information

  • To be eligible for the 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 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 2020, people on student, temporary work or visitor visas who can’t support themselves or 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 2020 to 28 February 2021.  
  • 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 arranging 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 2020 and make an appointment.  Applications must be made in person, not online or over the phone.
  • Those under the age of 16 will not be eligible for this benefit.
  • International students in New Zealand on sponsored visas or with a sponsored condition on their visa are not eligible for this benefit.

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