Emergency benefit for temporary visa holders

Help may be available for temporary visa holders – including international students - who can’t return home due to COVID-19 and are experiencing financial hardship.


Emergency Benefit, which was available for eligible temporary visa holders until 28 February 2021 from Work and Income at the Ministry of Social Development, has been extended to 31 August 2021.

It’s a weekly payment to help with basic living costs while the person arranges to return home as soon as they can.

You can direct in-need students to this Work and Income link to find out if they will qualify and how to apply.

Who is eligible

Foreign nationals may be able to get the Emergency Benefit if they:

  • have a current temporary New Zealand visa that is not sponsored, for example a visitor visa, student visa or work visa
  • are in financial hardship with no other means of support (other than money to buy a flight home)
  • either:
    • are arranging to return home as soon as they can, or
    • can't get home because of COVID-19 travel restrictions but will do so as soon as flights are available
  • are taking all reasonable steps to find other means of support, including looking for work; consular assistance; savings or support from family, friends and organisations in NZ or overseas
  • have a valid passport
  • have a New Zealand bank account
  • have an Inland Revenue (IRD) number.

What's in it for me?