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The Guide to Health and Character Waivers

Regardless of their nationality, background or financial situation, all migrants who want to work or settle in NZ need to comply with 2 requirements:



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How do I meet those requirements?

Health requirements: An applicant needs to be considered to have an “Acceptable Standard of Health” (ASH). The evidence is mostly, but not just exclusive to, medical exams and x-rays

Character requirements: An applicant needs to be deemed to be of good character and not pose a potential security risk. The required evidence is mostly in the form of police certificates

For the majority of applicants, these general requirements are mostly an afterthought and just a series of tick offs before their plane lands. However, for some people, the health or character conditions are their biggest challenge to their objective of calling New Zealand home. This is when the concept of health or character waiver becomes essential for a successful visa application

What is a waiver?

A waiver is a power that an immigration officer has to grant a temporary or residence visa despite the applicant not meeting all health or character requirements. The circumstances in which an officer is allowed to grant a waiver or not are highly regulated and must be thoroughly explained by the applicant or their immigration adviser.

I was not even aware that I had a health or character issue; can I still apply for a waiver?

Immigration officers cannot decline a visa application immediately after a health or character issue has been discovered or disclosed by an applicant. Officers must first send a PPI letter detailing their concerns and requesting an explanation. The reply to such PPI is the waiver request.

What are the health or character requirements to be considered ASH or of good character?

The list of health and character requirements is extensive and varies on the type of visa being applied for. Temporary visas have different requirements from residency ones.

Health instructions

According to immigration instructions in order to be considered ASH, the applicant must be:

1. unlikely to be a danger to public health; and
2. unlikely to impose significant costs or demands on New Zealand’s health services during their period of intended stay in New Zealand; and
3. 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.

INZ has a list of medical conditions which they consider fit these criteria.

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Character instructions

According to immigration instructions In order to be considered of good character the applicant must never:

1. has been convicted at any time of an offence against the immigration, citizenship or passport laws of any country; or
2. in the course of applying for a New Zealand visa, has made any statement or provided any information, evidence or submission that was false, misleading or forged, or withheld material information; or
3. at the time of application has been charged with an offence, which on conviction, would make section 15 of the Immigration Act 2009 apply to that applicant; or is under investigation for such an offence; or is wanted for questioning about such an offence; or
4. has been convicted at any time of: any offence for which they have been imprisoned; or an offence in New Zealand for which the court has the power to impose imprisonment for a term of three months or more; or
5. in support of any application by another person for a New Zealand visa has made any statement or provided any information, evidence or submission that was false, misleading or forged.

Can I be granted a health/character waiver for any issue
which makes me non-eligible?

No. There are some extreme cases in which a case officer is not allowed to issue a waiver.

For health issues:

The applicants:
1. require dialysis treatment, or an Immigration New Zealand medical assessor has indicated that they will require such treatment within a period of five years from the date of the medical assessment; or
2. have severe haemophilia; or
3. have a physical, intellectual, cognitive and/or sensory incapacity that requires full time care, including care in the community; or
4. currently have tuberculosis (TB) (any form including pulmonary and non-pulmonary TB, Multidrug-Resistant (MDR)-TB and Extensively Drug-Resistant (XDR)-TB) and have not completed full treatment for TB as outlined in the New Zealand Guidelines for TB Treatment; or
5. have had 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 as outlined in the New Zealand Guidelines for TB.

For Character Issues:

Applications with offences listed in sections 15 & 16 of the Immigration Act 2009

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What will happen if my health/character issue is of the no-waiver variety?

Then a waiver request will be unsuccessful. Your only and last alternative is to apply for a Special Direction, which is a direct appeal to the Minister of Immigration

What is the best way to prepare a medical/character waiver?

There is no blueprint for a successful waiver. However, a waiver request must detail the facts of the applicant’s health or character issue. Some factors that officers may take into account in making their decision include, but are not limited to, the following:

For Health waivers:

1. The objectives of health instructions and the objectives of the category or instructions under which the application has been made.

2. The degree to which the applicant would impose significant costs and/or demands on New Zealand’s health or education services.

3. Whether the applicant has immediate family residing in New Zealand and the circumstances and duration of their residence.

4. Whether the applicant’s potential contribution to New Zealand will be significant.

5. The applicant’s length of intended stay.

For Character waivers:

1. If applicable, the seriousness of the offence (generally indicated by the term of imprisonment or size of the fine).

2. Whether there is more than one offence.

3. If applicable, the significance of the false, misleading or forged information provided, or information withheld, and whether the applicant is able to supply a reasonable and credible explanation or other evidence indicating they did not intend to deceive INZ.

4. How long ago the relevant event occurred whether the applicant has any immediate family lawfully and permanently in New Zealand.

5. Whether the applicant has some strong emotional or physical tie to New Zealand.

6. Whether the applicant’s potential contribution to New Zealand will be significant.

How can Visa Advisers help me?

Few issues are more challenging for a successful visa application than the need of lodging a waiver request. We can take the stress from you and prepare a request that explains your health or character issues and why they meet the threshold for waivers to be granted. Waiver cases are extremely unique and no two cases are similar. They are also by definition very private cases and thus generate a lot of anxiety and stress for a migrant to apply on their own. If there is a moment to trust the professionals it’s for these kinds of situations.