Border Exception

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the New Zealand border is closed to most non-New Zealand citizens.


However, you can still make a request to travel to New Zealand if you have one of the following critical purpose reasons*:

  • Partners and dependent children of New Zealand citizens or residents

  • Partner and dependent children of temporary visa holders, who held a NZ visa but were unable to join their partner or parent in NZ before the border closed;

  • Partner and dependent children of critical health workers, teachers, or highly-skilled workers.

  • Partner and dependent children of NZ work or student visa holders, who already hold a work, student or visitor visa and normally live in NZ.

  • Normally resident work visa holders who are currently outside NZ but who have maintained a job or business in NZ. 

  • Critical workers, including critical health workers, teachers, etc.


*The above is not a full list of critical purpose reasons. Please check the Immigration New Zealand website for the full list.

Critical Health Workers

Critical health workers refer to a wide range of health and disability workers who deliver critical services in New Zealand. They include doctors, nurses, dentists, physiotherapists, paramedics, technical and support staff in a range of medical settings, and those who deliver mental health services, aged care, hospice care, disability support, etc. (For a full list please refer to the Immigration New Zealand website).


Some occupations require proof of New Zealand registration.


Internationally qualified nurses

In order to practice as a registered nurse in New Zealand, one must gain New Zealand registration from the Nursing Council of New Zealand (NCNZ). According to NCNZ, internationally qualified nurses who meet standards including but not limited to English language, qualification and post-registration experience, will be invited to come to New Zealand by the NCNZ to complete a Competency Assessment Program (CAP). Once you are successfully enrolled in a CAP, you are considered a critical health worker and can make a request to travel to New Zealand. 


Those who hold current registration in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, Singapore, the United States of America or Canada may not need to complete a CAP. 


Other Critical Workers 

Employers and supporting agencies can request to bring workers into New Zealand if they are deemed ‘other critical workers’. Many of these requests are considered on a case by case basis. Nevertheless, certain classes of workers have been approved as ‘Other Critical Workers’, amongst others, including dairy farm managers and assistants, veterinarians, and teachers.


Overseas Qualified Teachers

Up to 300 overseas qualified teachers may be allowed to enter New Zealand to work for eligible early learning centres, primary and secondary schools. 


To be included in this class exception, teachers must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Be employed in a low decile school, low decile early childhood education or any “hard to staff” school

  • Fill a position in a science, technology, engineering and mathematics role, OR

  • Already working in New Zealand as a teacher before the border closure and are returning to the same role. 


All teachers applying under the border exception will need to obtain teacher registration and certification from the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand, which will have an English language requirement.


Applying for a border exception as a Critical Worker

The application is a two-stage process. Firstly, submit an expression of interest online request form to Immigration New Zealand. Please note that the employer or other supporting agency must submit the request for ‘Other Critical Worker’. If the request is approved, you will be invited to apply for either a Critical Purpose Visitor Visa or a variation of visa conditions if you already have a visa. 


Partners and dependent children of Critical Workers can be included in the application.