Acceptable standard of health for visa applicants

The bar is set high to meet the acceptable standard of health requirements to qualify for a NZ visa. There is good reason for this because the costs for delivering medical services are massive and only getting more expensive every year. The government tries to strike a balance between approving visas and avoiding any excessive cost on the public health system by non residents or citizens.

But the rules for some health conditions considered to impose high costs on NZ health or education services are out of date. A review is well overdue.

For example, the dollar value of any pre-existing health condition(s) that a visa applicant has that is likely to cost $41,000 or more over the lifetime of the condition will not be cleared by Immigration NZ’s health team. In today's real costs that is a pretty low bar.

In good news last month following intense lobbying by multiple agencies HIV was removed from the list of conditions that are automatically regarded as high cost. This brings NZ into line with other countries such as Canada and Australia. Modern medication to treat HIV is a fraction of the cost that it was just a few years ago.

It is time to relook at current visa health requirements to make sure the rules are up to date and fit for purpose. In the meantime, anyone with health issues should take advice early on in the visa process. Once an application is lodged it may be difficult and time consuming to overcome health issues.

Visa applicants in Auckland can now complete NZ immigration medicals through approved doctors. There was a temporary pause over the lockdown but this is now lifted.

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