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The Government has agreed to defer the stand down requirement for lower skilled critical healthcare workers on Essential Skills work visas. This includes visa applications made after 27 July that are paid below the median wage.

Immigration instructions now allow eligible healthcare workers to hold Essential Skills visas for four rather than three years before they are required to stand down for 12 months. This is to help maintain existing health workforces and and minimise disruption to New Zealand’s COVID-19 public health response.

This decision only applies to healthcare and support workers who were employed in the following occupations and sectors on 23 March 2020:

  • Medical doctors
  • Nurses
  • Midwives
  • Psychologists
  • Physiotherapists
  • Technical and support staff working in select medical services; including:
    • Theatre
    • Radiology
    • Cardiology Blood Service
    • Nuclear Medicine
    • Oncology
    • Haematology
    • Pathology
    • Hyperbaric Medicine
    • Mortuary
    • Research Staff
  • People employed in the following sectors:
    • Aged Care
    • Palliative/hospice care
    • Mental health
    • Child health
    • Forensic care

Note: This is not a visa extension. This is a one-off change to support the health system’s response to COVID-19. Workers will need to apply for further Essential Skills work visas before their current visas expire.


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