Border Exemptions for Critical Health Workers Eased for Indefinite Period

Non-New Zealanders can get an entry waiver to travel offshores as a beneficial aid to the NZ medical sector in the post-COVID situation. Read on to learn more.

In light of the COVID-19 predicament, the New Zealand borders were sealed off on March 19, 2020, to ensure its residents' safety. There is little doubt that this was a necessary precaution that needed to be adopted, but it posed quite a few disadvantages in various sectors.

However, the last few months have seen several amendments in border exemption policies amidst changing global conditions.

The first implemented border exemptions allowed partners or dependent children of New Zealand citizens or permanent residents to travel back to the country to reunite with their relations. Eventually, the application for a Critical Purpose Visitor Visa opened up, which considered granting temporary visas to persons applying on the grounds of a "critical purpose." Under this list, Critical Health Workers are also eligible to apply for a visa and are exempted from immigration restrictions. If you are one of them, you can get a detailed overview by booking a consultation with one of our immigration experts.

Who Are Critical Health and Disability Workers?

The Immigration New Zealand(INZ) authorities define Critical Health and Disability Workers as workers holding critical positions required to deliver essential services within the health and disability system.

They are professional and licensed medical practitioners and medical staff who have the specialization and relevant skill-set to offer fruitful services to New Zealand residents.

Broadly speaking, Critical Health and Disability Workers are individuals who are equipped to provide professional medical assistance and a wide range of services, including psychotherapy and childcare services. They can be classified into multiple occupations and places of employment.

The Complete List of Occupations Under Critical Health Workers Are

  • Registered Health Practitioners according to the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act(HPCA).
  • Internationally qualified nurses who have an offer or are registered in a Competence Assessment Programme(CAP).
  • A medical worker trained to handle and operate medical equipment.
  • Paramedics and Ambulance workers.
  • Technical and support staff working in the laboratory, oncology, radiology, and other specified areas.
  • Addiction and mental health practitioners or workers delivering services in a host of other fields such as home care support, child health, aged care, disability support, respite, palliative and hospice care, and forensic heath.

Some of the employment places in which Critical Health Workers are eligible to practice are:

  • District Health Board
  • hospice
  • primary healthcare center
  • aged residential care
  • the New Zealand Blood Service, and
  • Government or Non-Government Organizations delivering medical services

Only the Ministry of Health and MBIE can introduce amendments to the list of occupations and places of employment to expand the scope of the critical health workers category.

Entry Date Waiver for Critical Health Workers

At first, the Critical Health Worker policy imposed a start date criteria, which means that only those who could start working within New Zealand on or before March 31 were eligible to hold the critical health worker designation.

Previous legislations stated that Critical Health Workers had to have an employment start date on or before March 31, but the INZ waived this requirement, and this start date has been extended indefinitely. This allows any person who meets the Critical Health Workers occupation criteria to apply for a visitor enabling them to enter and work in New Zealand.

Eligibility Criteria

Critical Health Workers can apply for a temporary entry class visa under the terms of Critical Purpose Visitor Visa, which lays down certain exceptions to non-entry into the country of New Zealand. Visitors applying on the grounds of a critical purpose need to provide relevant documents as evidence to prove their claims' truthfulness. Licensed immigration consultants shall then examine the papers. Only the Immigration New Zealand board is vested with the power to grant exemptions from border restrictions. The other criteria for application for a Critical Purpose Visitor Visa besides being a critical health worker are:

  • Partner of a dependent child of a New Zealand resident or citizen without a relationship-based visa
  • Critical health worker
  • Other critical workers
  • Citizens of the countries Samoa or Tonga who have directives and approvals from their respective governments to travel and the travel has been approved by The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade partner
  • Dependent child of an NZ worker or student visa holder
  • Humanitarian grounds
  • Ship crew arrival by sea
  • Cargo ship crew arrival by air

You will be eligible to apply as a Critical Health Worker if:

  • You are a current or new health or disability worker
  • You meet the criteria for the list of occupations under Critical Health Workers
  • You have the relevant registered certification and qualifications permitting your medical practice and are able to provide them as evidence

If you meet the above criteria, you can apply for a free initial visa form which a licensed INZ advisor will evaluate. If your assessment is positive, you will be contacted by the INZ authorities within 5 to 10 working days regarding updates about the formal procedure.


Border Exemption policies for Critical Health Workers were a welcome reward for the medical community of New Zealand. The lack of medical staff, especially in rural areas, puts a strain on practicing physicians and compromises medical service quality.

With such exemptions, interested and qualified health workers will be able to practice in the country and offer vital support for the New Zealand health sector's significant improvement. Border restrictions and start date criteria have previously disrupted the medical workflow, but the entry date waiver has now relieved the rural health workforce's pressure.

Immigration laws in New Zealand are undergoing constant changes owing to shifting global conditions and relations. Stay acquainted with recent legislations and book a consultation to learn more about immigration policies from licensed immigration consultants.

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