#COVID19: Border exception for critical health workers extended indefinitely

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The New Zealand Government has removed the start date criteria from the border exception for critical health workers. Medical professionals in New Zealand welcomed this decision.

What does this mean for health workers?

New Zealand has border restrictions in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. There are some exceptions, though. The border exception for critical health workers is one.

The exception allows eligible candidates from overseas to enter New Zealand to work. However, this exception had a start date requirement. The requirement meant that new, approved employees had to start working for their New Zealand employer on or before 31 March 2021.

Now there is no start date requirement for critical health workers, which means the border exception is indefinite.

Please note, though, that health workers still must meet all of the other border exception requirements. Start dates are also still dependent on the availability of places in managed isolation and quarantine facilities.

What type of health workers are eligible?

The removal of the start date criteria applies to the likes of:

  • Registered health practitioners, including nurses, doctors and paramedics – this includes those working in hospitals, practices, and aged care facilities
  • Internationally-qualified nurses, who still have to register in New Zealand
  • Workers that operate and maintain medical equipment

Please see the complete list of occupations on Immigration New Zealand under the Critical Health Workers heading. If you see your occupation, book a consultation call to find out if you’re eligible for a work visa.

Why was there an expiry date on the border exception in the first place?

The border exception for critical health workers was one of the first exceptions Immigration New Zealand put in place. The expiry dates allowed Immigration New Zealand to review the exception to ensure it was still required and that it was attracting the workers New Zealand’s health care system needs.

This is what the healthcare sector had to say

New Zealand Rural General Practice Network Chief Executive Dr. Grant Davidson welcomed Immigration New Zealand’s decision.

“Many of our rural practices rely on international doctors being able to enter the country to support their communities. About one-third of practices in rural areas have long-term vacancies and there aren’t enough doctors in New Zealand to fill these spots”, Davidson said. He continued, “Border restrictions have been disrupting our placement of essential health workers in jobs beyond March 2021. We are pleased this barrier has been removed.”

The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners also praised Immigration New Zealand for their decision.

College President Dr. Samantha Murton said, “This is a major win for our GP clinics across New Zealand who are struggling to recruit enough doctors. Now with greater certainty at the border, general practices can attract overseas-trained doctors – and get them here, meaning more patients seen by a doctor and releasing some of the tension on other struggling GPs.”

Stay up to date with other COVID-19 related changes

We expect to see immigration changes for as long as the COVID-19 pandemic is with us. Join our thousands of followers on Facebook and LinkedIn to stay in the know about future developments.

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