Critical Workers in New Zealand

Workers in healthcare, maritime and some other sectors are considered crucial for New Zealand.

To ensure that critical services can be provided in New Zealand and to support New Zealand employers who are experiencing difficulties with filling their job openings, New Zealand is inviting these critical workers to enter the country.

Our Accelerate Program for Critical Workers

At NZIC we offer our high priority Accelerate Program to Critical Workers in order to help you to secure the crucial offer of skilled employment and meet Immigration New Zealand’s policy requirements to enter the country now as a Critical Worker.

Join us on our next Webinar where our Lead Licensed Immigration Adviser will explain the Critical Worker definitions and process in further detail.

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Could you apply as a Critical Worker?

Immigration New Zealand are constantly reviewing and updating policy in response to the Covid-19 situation worldwide in order to determine which skilled workers can enter New Zealand at this time.

Currently there are two Critical Worker categories, ‘Critical Health Workers’ and ‘Other Critical Workers’. If you have the necessary professional background to be deemed a Critical Worker, you may be able to arrive in New Zealand this year.

Critical Health Workers

‘Critical Health Workers are registered health practitioners as set out in the health practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003’.

There is ongoing high demand for Health Workers in New Zealand. The health system in New Zealand is largely dependent on Skilled Migrants to fill critical roles. More than 40% of doctors practising in New Zealand undertook their training overseas, according to the Medical Council of New Zealand.

At present there is a large wave of health workers looking to escape to New Zealand due to the Covid-19 situation worldwide. The Medical Council is seeing an influx of Medical Professionals processing their Professional Registration to practice in New Zealand.

If you are a Medical Professional interested in working in New Zealand, contact us now to take part in our high priority Accelerate Program, and speed up your migration process!

Other Critical Workers

To qualify as an 'other critical worker', you must have an offer of skilled employment for a role that needs your unique experience and technical or specialist skills (that are not readily obtainable in New Zealand.)

Please note:

Holding an Essential Skills work visa is not enough to qualify as an ‘other critical worker’.

There are three ways to become an 'other critical worker', based on whether it is for a short term, long term, or an approved class of worker. You can find details of each of these categories below:


Criteria for short term critical workers

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(For less than 6 months in total)
Short term Critical Workers are undertaking a time-critical role’. (This could include contributing to an approved major infrastructure project or a government-approved programme). ‘For work which brings significant wider benefit to the national or regional economy’.

If you have found an employment position in New Zealand to work on a critical project that is expected to be completed in less than six months, you may qualify to be a short term Critical Worker.

Our Licensed Immigration Advisers would be happy to assist you and your potential employer to process your successful critical worker application that will allow you to work in New Zealand to complete the critical role.

For details of this category, short term critical workers must:
  • Have unique experience and technical or specialist skills that are not readily obtainable in New Zealand, or
  • Be undertaking 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.
Skills are considered not readily obtainable if there are no workers in New Zealand who can do the role, or there is a very limited pool of available workers who can do the role and they are not available to the employer.

Examples of workers meeting this standard may include:
  • Some highly specialist veterinarians
  • Vendor-appointed engineers required to install major equipment
  • Actor in a key film role

Criteria for long term critical workers

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(For more than 6 months)
They must meet one of the criteria for short term workers and:
  • Earn at least twice the median salary (currently 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
  • Are undertaking a role that is essential for the delivery or execution of a government-approved event, or a major government-approved programme, or an approved major infrastructure project.

Criteria for approved classes of workers

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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 – a list of nominated workers will be provided to Immigration New Zealand.

Requests for approval of critical workers must be made by the employer, not the migrant.

An employer requesting to hire skilled workers from outside of New Zealand must also still meet ‘Labour Market Test’ requirements by Immigration New Zealand and genuinely attempt to fill the role with New Zealanders.

Those requests for short and long-term critical workers are considered on a case-by-case basis by senior Immigration New Zealand officials.

INZ approval does not guarantee that visas will be granted to the migrant. Visa applicants must still submit an application, pay the application fee and any levies, and demonstrate they meet all criteria to be granted a Critical Purpose Visitor Visa or a Critical Purpose Variation of Conditions.

Do you want to apply as a Critical Worker?

If you have unique experience and skills that our Immigration Advisers can prove to Immigration New Zealand are critical right now, you will benefit from our Job Search Program for Critical Workers, which actively and efficiently works toward securing the crucial offer of skilled employment.

Our Licensed Immigration Advisers will work through the policy with you and your potential employer to ensure that you can meet these requirements and deliver a strong and successful case to Immigration New Zealand.

Contact us now to see if you could qualify for our Accelerate Program and find a critical role in New Zealand!

Job Seekers

Ask our Licensed Immigration Advisers whether you can qualify to be a critical worker.

NZ Employers

Ask our Licensed Immigration Advisers how you can request an approval for a critical worker you would like to employ.

Ready to get started?

Base your move on solid grounds: Ask us for a Free Assessment first!
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