Critical Workers in New Zealand

Healthcare Professionals and Professionals from certain other sectors are considered critical for New Zealand.  

Critical Workers can expedite their visa process considerably and will be able to enter New Zealand now, while the borders are still mostly closed.

Our Accelerate Program for Critical Workers

At NZIC we have developed our high priority Accelerate Program, specifically tailored to facilitate a swift move to New Zealand for Critical Workers.

Critical Workers can find a job, obtain the necessary visa and come to New Zealand now, while the borders are still closed for most.

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What is the Critical Worker visa scheme?

In response to the worldwide Covid-19 outbreak New Zealand's borders are still mainly closed to keep the deadly virus under control.
To ensure that vital services can still be provided in New Zealand and to keep our country running as smoothly as possible during the Covid-19 crisis, New Zealand is constantly monitoring and reviewing our immigration policies.
Immigration New Zealand has released a visa policy for professionals in the healthcare sector and for other professionals who are deemed crucial for New Zealand's wellbeing.  
If you have the necessary professional background to be deemed a Critical Worker, you may be able to arrive in New Zealand this year.

Can you apply as a Critical Worker?

Currently there are two Critical Worker categories, ‘Critical Health Workers’ and ‘Other Critical Workers’.

What is a Critical Health Worker?

‘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 and according to the Medical Council of New Zealand more than 40% of doctors practising in New Zealand undertook their training overseas.

The Medical Council is seeing an influx of Medical Professionals processing their Professional Registration to practice in New Zealand, due to the worldwide Covid-19 outbreak and New Zealand being considered a relatively safe haven.

If you are a Medical Professional interested in working in New Zealand, send us your Free Assessment form and let us know that you might qualify for this specific process that will allow you to expedite your visa process considerably.


Other Critical Workers

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

Please note:

Holding an Essential Skills work visa does not mean that you qualify as an ‘other critical worker’.

The three categories under which you can be accepted as an 'other critical worker' are based on whether it is for a short term, long term, or an approved class of worker:

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, for work which brings significant wider benefit to the national or regional economy.

This can include contributing to an approved major infrastructure project or a government-approved programme.

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.

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)
Applicants 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 professional 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.


Please note: 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 meet ‘Labour Market Test’ requirements and demonstrate that they have genuinely attempted to fill the role with New Zealanders.

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


Critical Purpose Visitor Visa and Critical Purpose Variation of Conditions
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 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.

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.

Join us on our Immigration and Job Hunt Webinar to hear from our Principal Licensed Immigration Adviser Dr. Carsten Hallwass how you might be able to expedite your move to New Zealand as Critical Worker, by taking advantage of our highly targeted Accelerate Program.

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.

Do you want to migrate to New Zealand?

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