Advocacy

Our Asks of the NZ Government​
AID

1. Australia has provided hundreds of millions of aid in aggregate, including lethal military aid. To keep in step, we should increase New Zealand’s aid, including military aid.

2. Following Australia’s footsteps, permit donations to approved aid organisations that are directly supporting Ukrainian refugees in Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Hungary to be tax-deductible.

IMMIGRATION

1. Relax legal visa barriers for Ukrainian citizens seeking shelter in New Zealand.

  • Expand the eligibility scope so that applicants are also able to sponsor non-immediate family members, including cousins/second cousins, aunts/uncles, grandchildren, and other relatives through marriage (as well as any other Ukrainian persons if there is evidence of close connection). Expanding the eligibility scope beyond a Western ‘nuclear family’ definition will allow sponsors and applicants to define their close family themselves.
  • Allow Ukrainians who live in New Zealand, but who are not New Zealand residents or citizens, to be sponsors for their Ukrainian families (including Ukrainians on work visas).
  • Widen the sponsorship criteria to allow those New Zealand citizens or residents with familial or heritage ties to Ukraine to be sponsors. Currently, only New Zealand citizens or residents that were born in Ukraine or have held citizenship or permanent residency in Ukraine are able to sponsor others for the 2022 Special Ukraine Visa.  Extending this to those of Ukrainian descent or with Ukrainian family (irrespective of whether the sponsor was born in Ukraine, is a Ukrainian citizen, or permanent resident) will allow more Ukrainians affected by the war to join families in New Zealand.
  • Amend the Special Ukraine Visa to provide approval for children to travel to New Zealand without their parents, where the parents are not able to travel, and without the approval of both parents. Other mechanisms (legislative or otherwise) should also be considered to expedite legal guardianship/adoption processes by New Zealand-based close family members of Ukrainian children.
  • Separate the financial and personal elements of sponsorship. Allowing for separate sponsors/applicants for the financial and personal elements of sponsorship/application would ensure that those eligible New Zealand sponsors without extensive financial resources could still sponsor their family, by providing a mechanism for non-family to assist them with financial sponsorship.

2. Alleviate the financial burden on the Special Ukraine Visa sponsors (provide wrap-around support, incl. financial support, and access to socialisation and education programs).

  • As part of New Zealand’s humanitarian response, consider establishing a humanitarian support fund, either government-led or in partnership with the Ukraine Refugee Relocation Trust (a subset of the Perpetual Guardian Foundation) established by Mahi for Ukraine, to deliver wrap-around financial assistance to Ukrainians in New Zealand for the length of the Special Ukraine Visa, including temporary accommodation (where the need can be proven) and support once settled in the community. Alternatively, consider granting access to specific community services for the Ukraine Special Visa holders for the period of time they are in New Zealand on a Special Ukraine Visa.
  • Extend the Community Organisation Refugee Sponsorship (CORS) model to include specific places for Ukrainians affected by Russia’s invasion. Extending the CORS program to Ukrainians would provide an alternative avenue for Ukrainian refugees to enter New Zealand, by allowing private sponsors, community groups, and non-governmental organisations to sponsor and support them during their first two years in New Zealand.
  • Allow recipients of the Ukraine Visa who had already commenced a tertiary study to continue their study in New Zealand at domestic rates. Allow other recipients of the Special Ukraine Visa to access tertiary & other studies at domestic rates (including free / TEC-funded English Language courses NZQA certifications and fee-free courses currently available to New Zealand residents and citizens) to allow Ukrainians to learn skills and trades that contribute to the New Zealand economy.
  • Further, tertiary student visa-holders that are Ukrainian citizens (ie recipients of other types of visas since the invasion of Ukraine) should also be allowed to pay domestic rates.
  • Partner with community-service agencies and churches that can provide settlement assistance to Ukraine Visa holders, including assisting with finding accommodation, furnishing homes, education and employment assistance, English-language classes, and other social-integration activities.
  • Provide subsidised healthcare for appointments with general practitioners and/or repeat prescriptions to Ukrainians who are not yet in work (e.g. through a Community Services Card or the Jobseeker benefit). A similar benefit should also be provided for elderly Ukrainians who cannot/will not be able to work.
  • Alternatively, consider granting recipients of the Ukraine Visa the same rights and privileges as Convention refugees (Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees 189 UNTS 137). It is likely many recipients of the Ukraine Visa meet the convention definition of refugee, as they are fleeing their country due to war and have a well-founded fear of being gravely harmed if they return. This would allow recipients to access more support and services. And/or as part of the 2022/23 Refugee Quota Programme, allocate some of the 200 places for large-scale international crisis situations to Ukrainian refugees.

3. Provide certainty.

  • Establish a visa extension process for holders of the 2022 Special Ukraine Visa. Providing a mechanism through which holders of the 2022 Special Ukraine Visa have their visa extended for a period of at least 2 years to provide certainty for visa holders.
  • Create a pathway to residency – a special residency visa for 2022 Special Ukraine Visa holders and Ukrainians that entered New Zealand on other visas since February 2022. In addition to the extension option for those who intend to return to Ukraine when it is possible and safe to do so. We are also requesting a pathway to residency for those who may like to stay with their New Zealand family, have no home to return to, and/or seniors for whom it would be extremely difficult to relocate again.
  • Establish a priority queue under the current Parent Resident Visa for Ukrainian nationals already in New Zealand that are otherwise eligible for residency under this category.
  • Allow all Ukrainian other temporary visa holders to remain in New Zealand for a period of no less than three years (the current visa extension is 12 months).

4. Review and approve with urgency all visa applications from Ukrainian citizens that are currently pending.
Continue to prioritise and expedite all visa applications made by Ukrainian citizens, including under the Special Ukraine Visa.

SANCTIONS

1. To have any chance at peace, Russia’s economy must not be able to sustain this war, and therefore sanctions must go further and be broader, to align with our allies, and send a clear message that Russia must be brought to account for its reprehensible and abhorrent actions.

2. Sanctions must stay in place until Ukrainian territorial integrity and sovereignty have been fully restored, repatriations paid, and safety and security guarantees for Ukraine from other countries have been established.

3. For individuals who openly support Russian aggression, prevent entry to NZ under temporary visas and block new visa applications through a good character test.

4. See here for a full list of proposed sanctions.

WAR CRIMES

1. We acknowledge the government’s efforts at the UN to support investigations and referral of war crimes to the International Criminal Court. We must continue these efforts by recognising the massacres and genocide, by supporting our allies (US and Australia) claim that president Putin is a war criminal, and that he should be prosecuted for the war crimes committed in Ukraine. 

2. Given the overwhelming evidence of war crimes, as recognised internationally, we should follow the lead of the international community by expelling Russian diplomats. Additionally, given Russia’s failed promises and its attempts to use the UN to attribute blame for civilian violence to Ukraine, expel the Russian Ambassador, as the value of any ongoing dialogue has proven to be limited and only provides legitimacy.

3. Create a platform to condemn and counter the misinformation by the Russian Federation.

4. Declare Russia as a terrorist state and a state sponsor of terrorism.

DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS

1. Commit to establishing a direct diplomatic mission to Ukraine to assist the Ukrainian families of New Zealanders bound for New Zealand.

 

Special Ukraine Visa Advocacy Survey Results

TBA: Mahi for Ukraine Community Survey (November)