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Medical Waivers - New Zealand Immigration

Applicants wanting to move to New Zealand need to meet certain criteria - this blog post will discuss one of these - being of an acceptable standard of health (ASH).

Understanding Medical Waivers: When applying for a visa to enter New Zealand, applicants may be required to undergo a medical examination. This link explains who needs to undertake which medical test/Xray - which is usually determined by visa type and duration. The examination aims to ensure that applicants do not pose a risk to public health or impose undue costs on New Zealand's healthcare system. However, it's not uncommon for applicants to have pre-existing medical conditions that might raise concerns during the immigration process. It is also worth noting that children who may be eligible for special education services fall under this category too, in that they may impose significant costs on the tax payer.

In some cases, applicants may be eligible for a medical waiver. A medical waiver essentially allows individuals with certain medical conditions to still be granted a visa, provided that their condition meets specific criteria. These waivers are granted on a case-by-case basis, taking into account factors such as the severity of the condition, the potential impact on public health, and the availability of treatment in New Zealand. They are generally decided by an individual case officer, on the advice of INZ doctors.

Conditions Eligible for Waivers: The New Zealand immigration authorities consider a range of medical conditions for waivers. These may include chronic illnesses, disabilities, or conditions that require ongoing treatment. However, it's essential to note that not all medical conditions are eligible for waivers, and each case is assessed individually.

For example, conditions that may be considered for waivers include controlled diabetes, certain mental health conditions, and well-managed chronic diseases. On the other hand, conditions that pose significant health risks or require extensive medical care may not qualify for waivers (like cancer). Below is a non-exhaustive list of conditions that INZ believe will impose significant costs - per A4.10.1 of the Immigration Operations Manual:

Hepatitis B-surface antigen positive and meeting criteria for anti-viral treatment in New Zealand

  • Hepatitis C-RNA positive and meeting criteria for anti-viral treatment in New Zealand

  • Malignancies of organs, skin (such as melanoma) and haematopoietic tissue, including past history of, or currently under treatment. Exceptions are:

  • treated minor skin malignancies

  • malignancies where the interval since treatment is such that the probability of recurrence is <10 percent

  • Requirement for organ transplants (with the exclusion of corneal grafts), or following organ transplant when immune suppression is required (with the exclusion of corneal grafts)

  • Severe, chronic or progressive renal or hepatic disorders

  • Musculoskeletal diseases or disorders such as osteoarthritis with a high probability of surgery in the next five years

  • Severe, chronic or progressive neurological disorders, including but not exclusive to:

  • any dementia including Alzheimer's disease

  • poorly controlled epilepsy

  • complex seizure disorder

  • cerebrovascular disease

  • cerebral palsy

  • paraplegia, quadriplegia

  • poliomyelitis

  • Parkinson’s disease

  • motor neurone disease, Huntington’s disease, muscular dystrophy

  • prion disease

  • relapsing and/or progressive multiple sclerosis

  • Cardiac diseases, including but not exclusive to:

  • severe ischaemic heart disease

  • cardiomyopathy

  • valve disease with a high probability of surgical and/or other procedural intervention in the next five years

  • aortic aneurysm with a high probability of surgical and/or other procedural intervention in the next five years

  • Chronic respiratory disease, including but not exclusive to:

  • severe and/or progressive restrictive (including interstitial) lung disease

  • severe and/or progressive obstructive lung disease

  • cystic fibrosis

  • Significant or disabling hereditary disorders, including but not exclusive to:

  • hereditary anaemias and coagulation disorders

  • primary immuno-deficiencies

  • Gaucher’s disease

  • Severe autoimmune disease which may require treatment in New Zealand with immune-suppressant medications other than Prednisone, Methotrexate, Azathioprine or Salazopyrin

  • Severe (71-90 decibels) hearing loss or profound bilateral sensori-neural hearing loss after best possible correction at country of origin, where significant support is required, including cochlear implants

  • Severe vision impairment with visual acuity of 6/36 or beyond after best possible correction at country of origin, or a loss restricting the field of vision to 15-20 degrees where significant support is required

  • Severe developmental disorders or severe cognitive impairments where significant support is required, including but not exclusive to:

  • physical disability

  • intellectual disability

  • autistic spectrum disorders

  • brain injury

  • Major psychiatric illness and/or addiction including any psychiatric condition that has required hospitalisation and/or where significant support is required

  • Those with a history, diagnostic findings or treatment for MDR-TB or XDR-TB, unless they have been cleared by a New Zealand Respiratory or Infectious Diseases specialist upon review of their file or review of the applicant according to the New Zealand Guidelines for Tuberculosis Treatment

Application Process: Obtaining a medical waiver involves a thorough assessment of the applicant's medical history and condition. Applicants are typically required to provide detailed medical reports, including information about their diagnosis, treatment plan, and prognosis. It is also worth noting that the standards for a temporary visa, like a work visa, are different from residency. It may be possible to get a medical waiver for a work visa, but not be granted one for your residency application.

I regularly request medical waivers for various conditions. Some examples I've worked on include cancer in remission, diabetes, cardiac disorders, psychiatric disorders, and many others. I have managed to get these approved so far. Another interesting thing to note is that HIV has been removed from the list of disorders deemed to place a financial burden on the health system, due to the availability of medications to effectively control and suppress the virus. If you have ever used anti-depressants, and are now in remission, you may, for example, still need to provide a letter from your doctor to reassure INZ that you are unlikely to require hospital or psychiatric care while in New Zealand

If you would like help or advice with managing the medical waiver process, you can book in a free consultation on my website here.

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