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Lately there has been some attention in the media concerning people – in two cases of mothers visiting their children in New Zealand – who were denied entry to New Zealand for not meeting health requirements.

So we thought we’d give you some more insight into this area of Immigration requirements.

As reported in the New Zealand Herald recently:

An Auckland man, Agha Muhammad Shoeb, 41, is fighting to get a visitor’s visa for his 78-year-old mother Rifat Jahan from India.

Shoeb’s mother was hospitalised for a surgery during a previous visit and INZ now say she is likely to impose significant costs or demands on NZ’s health services.

This follows the case involving 80-year-old South Korean great-grandmother Suk Jang Chang who was sent home after the agency deemed she was too sick to be allowed to remain with her daughter in Wellington.

Why does INZ impose health requirements?

INZ needs to protect the health of New Zealanders as well as public costs.

The health instructions are there to

  • protect public health in New Zealand; and

  • ensure that people entering New Zealand do not impose excessive costs and demands on New Zealand’s health and special education services; and

  • ensure that applicants for entry to New Zealand are able to undertake the functions for which they have been granted entry.

How does INZ assess health of entrants?

Visa applicants applying from overseas are required to make declarations about their health and may need to submit x-rays or full medicals, depending on their country and intended duration of stay. This would be considered in their application to see if they are of an acceptable standard of health.

For potential visitors from visa waiver countries, they don’t normally need to submit a medical before entering New Zealand. However, they may be stopped at the border if INZ has information suggesting they are not of acceptable standard of health and may be a burden on our health system. In the recent cases above, reportedly those people had had previous health issues in New Zealand and had incurred significant debt with the New Zealand district health boards.

If an applicant or visa waiver entrant is not of acceptable standard of health, it does not matter if they have medical insurance, or have their own funds or friends or family who can pay for their health costs.

An exception to health criteria applies for people specifically coming to New Zealand for medical treatment, who have met the specific criteria for that type of visit.

What is required to meet INZ Health Requirements for temporary entry?

Under Immigration Instructions: [1]

Applicants for temporary entry class visas to New Zealand are considered to have an acceptable standard of health if they are:

  • unlikely to be a danger to public health; and
  • unlikely to impose significant costs or demands on New Zealand’s health services during their period of intended stay in New Zealand; and
  • (if they are under 21 years of age and are applying for a student visa) unlikely to qualify for Ongoing Resourcing Schemes (ORS) funding during their period of intended stay in New Zealand; and
  • able to undertake the work or study on the basis of which they are applying for a visa, or which is a requirement for the grant of the visa.

Assessment of whether an applicant for a temporary entry class visa is likely to impose significant costs or demands on New Zealand’s health services will take into account whether there is a relatively high probability that the applicant will need publicly funded health services during their period of stay in New Zealand including, but not limited to:

  • hospitalisation;
  • residential care;
  • high cost pharmaceuticals;
  • high cost disability services.


Note that the provisions related to pharmaceuticals and disability services means not meeting health requirements is not limited to illnesses but can include disability, particularly for long-stay. For instance student visa applicants with hearing impairment or disabilities requiring special education services may not meet the “health requirements” although they may otherwise be of good health.

How can people who don’t meet health requirements enter New Zealand?

Applicants who don’t meet the acceptable standard of health requirements can apply for a medical waiver. There are some exceptions, such as dependents who were left out of the main applicant’s application when they could have been included.

In considering a medical waiver for a temporary visa, INZ will take into account the following factors:

  • the objectives of Health instructions (as above)

  • the objectives of the category or instructions under which the application has been made;

    • eg work, study or visitor objectives
  • the degree to which the applicant would impose significant costs and/or demands on New Zealand’s health or education services (as described above)

  • whether the applicant has immediate family lawfully and permanently resident in New Zealand and the circumstances and duration of that residence;

  • whether the applicant’s potential contribution to New Zealand will be significant;

  • the length of intended stay (including whether a person proposes to enter New Zealand permanently or temporarily).

As advised by INZ visa services manager Michael Carley to NZ Herald, medical waivers are only granted in exceptional cases, for instance where the applicant has special skills and an occupation in demand.

We can help with applications for medical waivers, to save you having to interpret the above policies, provide you with guidance on the required documents and putting together a case for you. For applicants from visa waiver countries with health conditions, it is recommended to apply for a waiver beforehand to avoid turnaround at the airport.

References: New Zealand Herald; Immigration New Zealand Operation Manual

  • If you or a family member meet all other criteria except health and want help to apply for a visa with a medical waiver, please contact us.
  • Please note we do not take general enquiries for information and consultations may incur fees. We cannot advise on medical issues. For general free information about INZ policy please contact INZ.

[1] Immigration Instructions A4.15.1