Health care in New Zealand is world-class! In a 2019 study conducted by ID Medical, a UK healthcare recruiter, New Zealand’s healthcare system was tied with that of the UK.
New Zealand also fares well in the World Health Organisation’s rankings where it finds itself among the top 50 countries.
It should come as no surprise that many migrants who pick New Zealand lists the country’s health care as a ‘pull factor’. Especially migrants with families!
Parent or no parent though, you’re sure to have questions about New Zealand’s healthcare system.
That’s why we’ve decided to answer 8 of your most frequently asked questions today. Up first:
1. Does New Zealand have a public healthcare system?
Yes, New Zealand does have a public healthcare system. Eligible residents get free or subsidised health and disability services which include:
- Primary health care visits such as doctor’s visits.
- Prescribed medicines.
- Public hospital services.
- Support services if you have disabilities.
2. Does the public healthcare system also cover dentistry?
While dental care is free for eligible children up to the age of 18, you’ll have to pay for most dental services yourself. However, the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), a government agency, will help with the cost if you need dental treatment because of an accident or injury.
Please note that free dental care for eligible children are not available through every dentist practice. You’ll have to check with your dentist if their practice offers this service.
3. Who is eligible for New Zealand’s public healthcare system?
You may be eligible for subsidised or free health care under the public system if you are:
- A New Zealand citizen or permanent resident or resident, although some exceptions do apply; or
- A work visa holder who is allowed to work in New Zealand for two years or more; or
- The holder of a work visa that allows you to work in New Zealand for two years or more when combined with time spent in the country just before getting your current work visa; or
- Under 17 and your parent or guardian is eligible; or
- An interim visa holder who was eligible immediately before you got the interim visa; or
- A refugee or protected person.
There is a chance that you’ll still qualify for public healthcare despite not meeting any of the requirements above. Please get advice from your immigration advisor or consult the Ministry of Health’s website.
4. Is private healthcare also available in New Zealand?
Yes, New Zealand does have private healthcare facilities. You’ll have to pay for healthcare services at these facilities yourself as the New Zealand government does not subsidise or pay for private healthcare services.
It is important to note, however, that you must be eligible for public healthcare in order to be allowed to take out private health insurance.
The benefits of private health insurance is that it allows you to decide how much cover you want and the type of services you want cover for. Private health insurance also means you can go to the doctor, specialist or hospital of your liking.
To compare private health insurance policies, go to LifeDirect, a New Zealand insurance comparison website.
5. Can I count on New Zealand healthcare’s system to look after my children?
Most definitely! As mentioned earlier, eligible children under the age of 18 are entitled to free dental health care. That’s not the only way the healthcare system in New Zealand looks after your children though:
- From birth to the age of 5: All children in New Zealand qualify for a free health service called Well Child/Tamariki Ora. This service gives children access to a range of health checks and provides support and advice to new parents.
- Under the age of 13: All children younger than 13 are eligible for the following free medical services:
- Immunisations against serious diseases.
- Regular eyesight and hearing checks at school.
- Visits to the doctor. Not all GPs may provide free visits, so check with your GP first.
- Basic dentistry, as mentioned.
- Under the age of 17: Publicly-funded healthcare.
6. What do I do in the case of a medical emergency?
In the unfortunate case of a medical emergency, you can either dial 111 to request an ambulance or go to the closest hospital’s 24-hour emergency department. You can get more information about when to visit an emergency department on the Ministry of Health’s website.
If injuries are sustained due to an accident, the Accident Compensation Corporate (ACC) cover will take care of most of the costs.
7. How do I find a doctor?
The good news is that New Zealand have over 35,000 GPs, so you’re sure to find a doctor in your area. Simply go to the Healthpoint website and do a search by suburb, name or service. This website also gives information about services and common treatments offered by GPs as well as referral expectations.
It’s important to know that doctors usually give priority to people who live or work in their local area, so local is always best when picking a GP.
8. How do I find hospitals in my area?
New Zealand has both public and private hospitals. You can find a hospital in your area by doing a search on the Ministry of Health’s website. Click here for public hospitals and here for private hospitals.
Go to the Ministry of Health’s website for more on health care in New Zealand…
The New Zealand’s Ministry of Health has a comprehensive website where you’re sure to find the answers to any other questions you might have. You can find the website here: www.health.govt.nz
Immigration New Zealand has made plenty of changes in September to accommodate certain groups of people despite the country’s ongoing border restrictions.
The latest change is the decision to start processing and deciding offshore applications for some relationship-based visas and accepting visa applications under selected visa categories.
Relationship-based visas supported by a New Zealander
Immigration New Zealand (INZ) are once again processing some relationship-based visas to reunite families and couples that have separated by the border restrictions. However, a New Zealand citizen or resident has to support the visa.
These visas include the following:
- Visitor visas for partners
- Visitor visas for dependent children
- Visitor visas for children entering New Zealand for adoption
- Visitor visas for children adopted overseas before their New Zealand citizenship is confirmed
- Visitor visas under the culturally arranged marriage category
- Work visas for partners
- Resident visas for partners
- Student visas for dependent children
Successful applicants will be exempt from New Zealand border restrictions. There is no need to seek approval from INZ prior to travelling to New Zealand to enter the country.
What happens if your application is unsuccessful?
If Immigration New Zealand determines that your application does not meet the necessary requirements, a general visitor visa may be appropriate.
Should Immigration New Zealand grant you a general visitor visa instead, INZ will place your application on hold until border restrictions allow them to process general visitor visas.
You’ll have 6 months to enter New Zealand
Travel is still severely restricted the world over. Due to this, successful applicants will get a 6-month ‘First Entry Before’ date to allow for more time to secure flights and managed isolation or quarantine in New Zealand.
Application older than 3 months may need updated information
If your visa application is more than three months old when it’s assessed, Immigration New Zealand may need to ask for updated information. For instance, a new chest x-ray certificate.
Immigration New Zealand will notify you or your immigration advisor if updated information is needed.
Offshore applications accepted under selected visa categories
You can now apply for a visa under the following categories if you’re doing so from offshore:
- Refugee Family Support (Tiers 1 and 2)
- Migrant Investor (Investor 1 and 2), including Expressions of Interest for Investor 2
- Parent Retirement
While Immigration New Zealand is going to accept applications for these visas, border restrictions means that INZ cannot grant the visas at the moment. However, INZ has said that they’ll process applications as far as is possible without granting approval.
With that said, your visa application is not guaranteed approval. Immigration New Zealand could still reject your application if you don’t meet the requirements.
Why did Immigration New Zealand decide to accept Entrepreneur and Investor visas?
The answer from Immigration New Zealand is that the Entrepreneur and Investor visa categories attracts around NZ$1 billion in investments each year in addition to valuable business networks.
INZ thus expects that processing these visa categories will support the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and wider government post-COVID-19 recovery plan.
How long will it take to process these applications?
Unfortunately, Immigration New Zealand are not able to prioritise any of the visa applications discussed here. INZ has said that their staff will process applications in the order by which the applications were received.
You can have a look at standard processing times on Immigration New Zealand’s website.
Do you need assistance with your visa application? We can help!
While you don’t have to use an advisor to assist you with your visa application, it is advisable to do so. Especially now when things are changing often!
Our advisors are experienced and all three advisors are also IAA licensed. This means our advisors are authorized to give advice and are held accountable for the advice they give our clients. Please do not hesitate to contact us!
The New Zealand government has relaxed the criteria for some overseas workers to allow migrants with critical skills through the border. The purpose of the decision is to help the country recover from its COVID-19 economic downturn.
Primarily, the criteria now defines skills as ‘not readily available’ in New Zealand as opposed to ‘not available in New Zealand’, and the change came into effect on Friday, 11 September.
Skills now described as ‘not readily obtainable’ in New Zealand
The New Zealand government has removed the requirement that migrants in critical occupations have to have gained their skills, qualifications or work experience overseas.
As reported by Radio New Zealand (RNZ), Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi said “Removing that requirement will allow entry, in some limited cases, where, for example, a workers has skills which are obtainable in New Zealand but they have unique experience gained overseas which would bring unique expertise to New Zealand businesses.”
The wording in the Immigration Act ordinarily states that these workers have to have unique experience and technical specialist skills that are ‘not obtainable’ in New Zealand. This wording has now been changed to ‘not readily obtainable’ in New Zealand to reflect that temporary change in requirements.
Minister Faafoi said about this that the “…wording change reflects that, in some fields, there is a very limited pool of experts and significant training would have to be undertaken before the skills were obtainable in New Zealand.”
Critical workers who meet the requirements are referred to as ‘other critical workers’.
It’s still far from a ‘free for all’
While New Zealand is working towards economic recovery, the country also wants to limit its exposure to the coronavirus and prevent the spread of the virus. To this end, ’other critical workers’ will still have to meet strict standards and criteria despite the loosening of the skills requirement.
New Zealand also has a limited number of isolation facilities for migrants arriving from overseas. This further restricts how many workers would be able to come through the borders.
Here’s how the process works…
New Zealand employers must request for approval of ‘other critical workers’ to enter New Zealand. Unfortunately, it is not possible for migrants to submit the request.
Further to this, employers can apply to bring employees to New Zealand under two categories:
- Short-term critical workers – staff needed for less than 6 months in total
- Long-term critical workers – staff needed for more than 6 months
Each of these categories has its own criteria:
Short-term critical workers
Workers coming to New Zealand for a short-term role, i.e. to fill a position for less than 6 months, must:
- Have unique experience and technical or specialists skills that are not readily obtainable in New Zealand, or
- Undertake a time-critical role for:
- The delivery of an approved major infrastructure project, or a government approved event or a major government-approved programme
- An approved government-to-government agreement
- Work that brings significant wider benefit to the national or regional economy
Examples of short-term critical workers
Immigration New Zealand has given examples of roles that may meet the short-term worker requirements. These examples include highly specialist veterinarians, vendor-appointed engineers required to install major equipment or an actor in a key film role.
Long-term critical workers
Workers coming to New Zealand to fill a long-term role, i.e. for 6 months or longer, must:
- Earn at least twice the median salary (NZD$106,080 a year), or
- Have a role that is essential for the completion or continuation of a science programme under a government funded or partially government-funded contract including research and development exchanges and partnerships, and has the support of the Science, Innovation and International Branch at MBIE to travel to New Zealand to carry out their work, or
- Be undertaking a role that is essential for the delivery or execution of:
- a government-approved event, or
- major government-approved programme, or
- approved major infrastructure project.
You can find events, project and programmes that have already been approved on Immigration New Zealand.
What happens once the employer has made the request?
Immigration New Zealand will review each request on its own merits and may seek advice from the appropriate government agencies. At the moment, most requests for ‘other critical workers’ receive an outcome within two weeks.
In the case of successful requests, INZ will contact the workers whose employers get approval for an exception to the border restrictions and invite the workers to apply for a Critical Purpose Visitor Visa or a Critical Purpose Variation of Conditions to allow them to travel to New Zealand.
Workers will get instructions from INZ on how to apply for either of these visas. Workers will also have to pay the immigration fee and levies, if applicable, as part of their application.
Follow us to stay up to date with further developments
New Zealand has made a couple of immigration changes in September, including the resumption of off-shore visa application processing and visa extensions for certain residents.
It is safe to assume that more changes will be announced in future as the coronavirus pandemic subsides.
You’ll not only get visa news but also tips for your immigration and information about life in New Zealand.
Ongoing coronavirus border closures means that many people are still stuck on either side of New Zealand’s borders. This includes resident visa holders and partners of New Zealanders who are overseas as well as temporary migrants and visitors who are still in New Zealand.
To assist these groups of people, Immigration New Zealand has announced four visa changes:
1. Visa extensions for New Zealand residents overseas
New Zealand residents who are stranded overseas fall into two groups:
- Residents with visas that have expired or are close to expiring
- Residents who have received their visas but haven’t had the chance to enter New Zealand due to the world-wide border closures
Immigration New Zealand has said that it recognizes that these people have recently met residency requirements and would’ve entered New Zealand and contributed to the economy under normal circumstances.
For these reasons, Immigration New Zealand has decided to do either one of the following for visa holders who are overseas:
- A 12-month visa extension, for offshore resident visa holders whose travel conditions are about to expire
- Issue a new visa that’ll be valid for 12 months, for offshore resident visa holders whose travel conditions expired on or after 2 February 2020
Offshore resident visa holders who were granted their resident visas while overseas but who have never used it to travel to New Zealand will need permission from Immigration New Zealand to do so.
2. Visitor visa extensions
Immigration New Zealand is automatically extending onshore visitor visas that are due to expire between 4 September and the end of October by 5 months.
This will enable temporary migrants and visitors to remain in New Zealand lawfully while making plans to depart the country.
Immigration New Zealand will contact all eligible visa holders who qualify for this extension. Unfortunately, there are some visitor visa categories that do not qualify. These categories are:
- Critical purpose visa holders
- Guardians of students
- Partners or dependants of work visa holders whose visas were extended previously
3. New COVID-19 short-term visitor visa
Immigration New Zealand is introducing a two-month COVID-19 visitor visa for temporary migrants who are still in New Zealand. The visa will allow these migrants more time to arrange their departure from New Zealand.
This specifically includes people reaching the end of their visitor, work, student or partnership visa who do not meet the criteria for another visa.
The most important requirement to note about this visitor visa is that it does not allow the visa holder to work in New Zealand.
For more details about the COVID-19 short-term visitor visa, go to Immigration New Zealand.
4. Critical Purpose Visitor Visa expansion to reunite New Zealanders and their Australian partners
From early October, Australian partners of New Zealand citizens or residents can travel to New Zealand by requesting a Critical Purpose Visitor Visa. Partners can also request permission to travel for dependent children.
At the moment, Australian partners can only travel to New Zealand if accompanied by their New Zealand partner or if they ordinarily live in New Zealand.
It will cost NZ$45 to submit the request for the visa, but there won’t be a visa application fee.
You can read more about the Critical Purpose Visitor Visa here.
What about partners from visa waiver countries?
Partners from visa waiver countries can also request to apply for a Critical Purpose Visitor Visa. The same NZ$45 fee will apply and you’ll also have to pay a visa application fee.
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September has seen a lot of immigration changes. INZ has also announced the loosening of border restrictions for ‘other critical workers’ and that it will resume the processing of some offshore visa applications.
It is likely that we’ll see more changes from Immigration New Zealand as the world continues to battle the coronavirus.
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