Feet in water

New Zealand, known for its breath-taking landscapes and vibrant culture, is rapidly emerging as an attractive destination for doctors seeking new opportunities abroad. Relocating to New Zealand as a doctor can be an exciting yet complex endeavor. In this blog post, we will provide valuable insights into the process of moving to New Zealand and shed light on the eligibility criteria, entitlements, conditions, and benefits associated with the visas available. Drawing from our personal experience as UK expats who have successfully made the move, we understand the challenges and are here to guide you through the journey.

When making such a big move, having as much support as possible on the ground in New Zealand can make all the difference to a smooth transition. Working alongside both a medical recruitment agency and a licensed immigration advisor means that you will be supported through all steps of the process.

Visa options for doctors

Straight to Residency Visa

New Zealand’s Green List Tier 1 Straight to Residence visa is a highly sought-after pathway for doctors who are looking to permanently relocate to NZ. This visa category is specifically designed to address critical skill shortages and fast-track the immigration process for doctors and other healthcare professionals who meet specific criteria. The Green List Tier 1 visa offers an accelerated pathway to residence, allowing doctors to establish their careers and settle in New Zealand more quickly. Under this category your partner and children would be eligible for their own visas based on their relationship to you.

This streamlined process recognizes the immediate and long-term contributions that doctors make to New Zealand’s healthcare system and expedites their journey to becoming permanent residents. It offers a clear pathway to long-term settlement and the ability to enjoy the many benefits that New Zealand has to offer as a new home for doctors and their families. This visa category is also offered for nurses. 

Temporary Visas

Also available is the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) which is a temporary visa generally issued for three years. Under this category your partner and children would be eligible for their own visas based on their relationship to you. These visas require your employer to be accredited with Immigration New Zealand and will restrict you to working in a specific role, location, and for a specific employer. In the event that your working situation changes, you may need to to apply for a new AEWV.

Visa eligibility and Restrictions

Doctors typically need to have the necessary qualifications, work experience, and registration with the Medical Council of New Zealand, in order to be eligible for a visa. Temporary work visas do not have age restrictions but, in general, permanent residency visas require applicants to be under the age of 55.  Applicants for permanent residency visas and their partners must prove they meet the standard of English Language or are prepared to pay for tuition for a visa to be granted.

Partnership Rights and Working

If you are a doctor that holds a visa, your partner will very likely be eligible to accompany you and seek employment here. 

Immigration New Zealand has specific criteria to assess partnership and expert advice here can be invaluable. There are restrictions which relate to partners of temporary visas in terms of the work they can do which may be relevant to your situation.

Access to health care and education

Migrants (and their families) who hold either a 2 year + work visa or residency can access public health care here in NZ. Your school age children will also be eligible for domestic student visas, or long-term visitor visas if they are preschool age. To be eligible to access tertiary education (without paying international fees) older children need to hold residency.

Visa conditions

As mentioned earlier, temporary work visas will come with the condition that you work in a specific role, receive specific pay, and will name the employer you are entitled to work for. Residency visas do not have these restrictions attached. There are criteria all migrants must meet relating to health and character and these vary depending on whether the visa is temporary or permanent.

Visa Costs

At the time of writing (May 2023), the Straight to Residency visa application fee is $4890 NZD, this fee covers the whole family. Temporary visa fees are much lower but everyone must make an individual application. The work visa fee is $750 NZD, a partner visa is $700 NZD and children’s visas are up to $400 NZD each.  Although a residency application is more expensive it does save the hassle and expense of further visa applications.

Future proofing

In general, achieving residency in New Zealand is becoming more difficult and making a thorough application is essential if you (and your employer) want to avoid delays or the potential decline of your application. Visa applications are likely to take at least a month to prepare and decision times at Immigration New Zealand vary from 14 days to much longer. A Licensed Immigration Adviser can help to ensure your application is of a high standard and that it receives prompt attention at Immigration New Zealand.

When your recruitment agent and immigration adviser can work in partnership to support you and your potential employer, you are free to concentrate on the more exciting parts of a move to New Zealand!

Relocating to New Zealand opens a world of opportunities for professional growth, a safe environment for your family and a high standard of living. The country is actively recruiting skilled doctors to address shortages in both rural and urban areas and there are a multitude of exciting career prospects.

If you are looking for a change New Zealand offers a relaxed, peaceful environment where people look out for each other with services like subsidised healthcare. New Zealand is a society which values scientific knowledge, offers great career advancement opportunities, respects your work/life balance – and all of this with a beautiful backdrop.

Guest blog written by:

Rebecca Strange  Licensed Immigration Adviser 201300842 
Phone: +64 21 535 105


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