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Critical Workers

Until the border fully reopens the main way to get workers into New Zealand is as “critical workers”. While initially the pathway had a bar that was set very high, the requirements have been relaxed and it is now easier to bring in workers from overseas.
There are two main pathways as set out below:

Critical Health Workers

Critical Health Workers are registered health practitioners as set out in the health practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003. This classification extends to the following:

  • 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
  • workers that install, operate or maintain 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
  • Physician Associates

Critical health and disability workers may work in the following sectors:

  • a District Health Board
  • the New Zealand Blood Service
  • a hospice or palliative care
  • a primary care practice such as urgent care or a medical or healthcare centre
  • an aged residential care, respite or continuing care facility, including care in a person’s home or community facility
  • a government or Non-Government Organisation delivering health and disability services
  • organisations that provide, operate and maintain medical equipment
  • private employers delivering health and disability services

This does not include roles that are indirectly related to the provision of health and disability services, or corporate functions such as human resources, office administration or property maintenance.

You may need to provide evidence of your qualifications or registration.

Other Critical Workers

There are 3 categories, each with their own criteria, where you can bring employees into New Zealand:

  1. worker needed for a short term role — less than 6 months in total
  2. worker needed for a long term role — more than 6 months
  3. worker for an approved class.
Short term role

A worker needed in New Zealand for a short term role (less than six months in total) is considered an ‘other critical worker’ if:

  • they have unique experience and technical or specialist skills not readily obtainable in New Zealand, or
  • they have a role for the delivery of an approved major infrastructure project and earn at least the median wage, or
  • they are undertaking a time-critical role for:
  • a government approved event or a major government-approved programme
  • an approved government-to-government agreement
  • work with significant wider benefit to the national or regional economy.
Long term role

A worker needed in New Zealand for the long term (six months or longer) is considered an ‘other critical worker’ if:

  • they earn at least 1.5 times the NZ median wage, or NZD $84,240 a year, or
  • they have a role 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 have the support of the Science, Innovation and International Branch at MBIE to travel to New Zealand to carry out their work, or
  • they have a role for the delivery of an approved major infrastructure project and earn at least the median wage, or
  • their role is essential for the delivery or execution of:
  • a government-approved event, or
  • major government-approved programme.
Approved class of worker

A worker coming to New Zealand may be considered an ‘other critical worker’ if they:

  • are in a class of worker approved by Ministers
  • have been nominated by an authorised government agency or an industry group

Current approved class of workers includes seasonal ski workers, external auditors, specialist technology sector workers, shearers, teachers and veterinarians. This is just some of the approved classes. There are limited numbers allowed for each of these classes.

We have been helping our clients emigrate to New Zealand for over 25 years. See some of our feedback.