Critical Purpose Visa

Can you get a border exemption as a Critical Worker for New Zealand?

Critical Workers in New Zealand

The Government has identified certain industries and occupations which qualify for visas and border entry, despite the restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you have secured employment with a New Zealand company from overseas and you qualify as a Critical Worker, you can enter New Zealand on a Critical Purpose Visa and take up employment upon arrival, to then proceed with longer-term visa options.

What are the criteria to qualify as a Critical Worker?

Two main Critical Worker categories are in place, these are:

Critical Health Workers

If you are a health or disability worker and have secured in a role needed to deliver critical services in New Zealand, and you have or you can secure occupational registration with a relevant registration body, then you may qualify as a Critical Health Worker.

To be deemed a Critical health and disability worker, your New Zealand employer must directly provide health and disability services, and you must be an:

    • registered health practitioners as set out in the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003
      Responsible authorities under the Act | Ministry of Health
    • internationally qualified nurses who:
      • are invited to come to New Zealand by the Nursing Council of New Zealand, and
      • are enrolled in a Competence Assessment Programme
    • a worker that installs, operates or maintains medical equipment
    • paramedics and ambulance workers (including air and road)
    • technical and support staff working in:
      • theatre
      • laboratory
      • radiology
      • pharmacy services
      • cardiology blood service
      • nuclear medicine
      • oncology
      • haematology
      • pathology
      • hyperbaric medicine
      • mortuary
      • research staff
    • workers delivering mental health and addictions services, aged care, respite, home care and support, child health, palliative and hospice care, forensic health, and disability support.

Roles indirectly related to these services, such as administration or maintenance, do not qualify.

Other Critical Workers

There are quotas for certain "Approved classes of workers", including Shearers, Agricultural plant mobile operators, mixed and large animal Veterinarians, and Deepwater fishing crew.

It is generally expected that the employer or their representative (Immigration Adviser) makes the request on behalf of the worker.

For any other occupation, the key requirement for long-term roles is to offer at least 1.5 times the NZ median wage (this equates to at least $84,240 per annum). For short-term roles, the onus is on the employer and the application to show that your skillset is needed due to your unique experience and technical or specialist skills, and that these are not readily obtainable in New Zealand. Depending on the intended duration of your stay in New Zealand, there are also different criteria.