Stand Down Requirement for Lower Skilled Healthcare and Support Workers Deferred

In response to the ongoing effects of COVID-19, the New Zealand government has agreed to defer the stand down requirement for lower-skilled critical healthcare workers.

The stand down policy, which has come into play in August 2020, requires some Essential Skills foreign workers who have held ‘lower skills’ visas for three consecutive years to take a one-year stand-down period outside of the country before they are able to apply for a further ‘lower skills’ or ‘lower-paid’ work visa.

We are pleased to report that eligible healthcare workers may now hold lower-skilled Essential Skills visas for four, rather than three, years. This will help New Zealand to maintain the healthcare workforce and manage our COVID response during this critical time.

It’s important to note that the recent policy change includes visa applications made after 27 July 2020, and that ‘lower skilled’ or ‘lower-paid’ refers to those workers who make less than the median wage of $25.50 per hour as of 10th of June 2020. If you’ve had a pay rise since then, congratulations! You’re no longer subject to the stand-down period requirement.

The deferment decision doesn’t apply to all lower-skilled or lower-paid visa holders, only to healthcare and support workers who were employed in the following occupations and sectors on 23 March 2020:

Occupations: Medical doctors; Nurses; Midwives; Psychologists; Physiotherapists

Technical and support staff working in: Theatre; Laboratory; Radiology; Cardiology blood service; Nuclear medicine; Oncology; Haematology; Pathology; Hyperbaric medicine; Mortuary; Research staff

Sectors: Aged care; Palliative/hospice care; Mental health; Child health; Forensic care

If you’re eligible for this deferment, then you’ll still need to apply for further Essential Skills work visas before your current visa expires.

What rules apply if you are not a healthcare or support worker?

If you are employed in a lower-paid role where you must stand down between August 2020 and of the 31 December 2020, you will be able to stay in New Zealand and work for the same employer in the same occupation and location for up to 6 more months, in line with your automatic visa extension which was announced by the government on 7 July 2020.

The stand down period will still come into play if you apply for another lower-paid Essential Skills work visa including to work for another employer, or change location in a lower-paid role.

If you are required to stand down from February 2021, you must leave New Zealand for 12 months before you can apply for another lower-paid work visa, alternatively you need to apply for a different type of visa in order to remain in New Zealand.

If you’re unsure as to whether you’re subject to the stand down requirement, then get in touch with us at Pitt & Moore and we can help find out how much longer you’re able to hold your lower-skilled Essential Skills work visa for.

Get professional advice

We highly recommend for temporary visa holders who are on their third lower skilled Essential Skills Work Visa (granted after 28 August 2017), to get in touch with us now so we can expertly guide you through your options for remaining in New Zealand.

How Pitt & Moore can help

We offer an initial free consultation to all new clients to discuss your particular circumstances and what services we can provide.

What sets us apart is that we are experts in each step of the immigration process. This means that we can advise on all immigration and visa-related issues.

Talk to us

We don’t just advise on the visa requirements, we can ensure that you receive comprehensive legal advice on all aspects applicable to your particular circumstances, including compliance and employment.

For professional legal advice that will give you peace of mind contact our Immigration Team.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended as legal advice. It is important that you seek legal advice that is specific to your circumstances.

Topics: All Select

Elly Fleming

Position: Associate
DDI: +64 3 545 6714