6 Things to Keep in Mind When Hiring Medical Practitioners from Overseas

Year after year, NZ continues to rank as one of the top destinations for expats living and working abroad – coming in sixth out of 59 destinations for expats in the recent Expat Insider’s 2021 survey. Suffice to say, there are a number of reasons for overseas medical practitioners to choose to relocate to NZ. However, given the recent increase in immigration changes as well as complicated border entry requirements, recruiting locums from overseas can be intimidating and challenging – even if you are familiar with this process at a high level.

Here are a few key tips to help you plan for when working through the hiring process with a medical practitioner from overseas.

1 – Ensure your international candidate has the right registration.

Your international GP candidate is required to hold registration from the Medical Council of New Zealand (MCNZ) before they are able to practice medicine in NZ. While MCNZ’s website provides a number of helpful resources to guide your candidates down the most relevant registration pathway, the registration process can be time-consuming, adding several  weeks to the hiring process – especially as some registration pathways require candidates to have  a job offer in hand before they are able to apply.

In the case of nurses, candidates will need to be registered with the Nursing Council of New Zealand, which also is a process that takes time – the duration and complexity of this depends on the country the applicant has trained and worked in.

While it might be tempting for your candidates to choose the registration pathway that looks to take the least amount of time or be the most simplistic, it is important that they prioritise the registration pathway that best aligns with their long-term goals, such as settling in NZ.

2 – NZ borders gradually begin to open up

The NZ border had been closed to almost all travellers since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, however certain travellers – including those coming on a critical purpose – have been able to enter the country. Luckily for you and the medical practitioners you are looking to hire, the Critical Health Worker visa category does allow visa-holders and their family to travel to New Zealand while the borders are closed.

There are a number of requirements for this visa. The most important being that to qualify as a Critical Health Worker, the applicant will have to have already completed the relevant registration process and already have received and signed a relevant offer of employment.

3 – Transitioning from Critical Purpose Visitor Visa  to the Right Work Visa

Currently, following the grant of a border exemption, Critical Health Workers enter NZ on a Critical Purpose Visitor Visa with full working rights. Depending on the nature and duration of their offer of employment, they can then move into a longer term work visa.

In pre-Covid days, many candidates came to NZ to begin work on  a Specific Purpose Work Visa (SPWV). This  is a short term work visa to complete a specific purpose in NZ. And although the visa provided to your candidates is because of their work with your organisation – from Immigration New Zealand’s standpoint they are only there to fulfill that ‘specific’ role .

However, if you decide to make them a permanent addition to your team, then a different work visa is needed. From now through mid-2022, the Essential Skills Work Visa (ESWV) is the optimal work visa.

And, with massive immigration policy shifts that are planned to take place on 4th July this year (where ESWVs will be replaced by an Accredited Employer Work Visa or AEWV), all employers will first need to be accredited in order to support and retain migrant workers on a visa after that date.

With so many policy changes coming, it is vital that you and your employees understand early on which work visa provides what type of future pathways (residence or not).

4 – One-off 2021 Resident Visa is an option until 31st July 2022

The one-off 2021 Resident Visa (RV21) has created a big buzz among migrants in New Zealand. But it’s important to note that until 31st July 2022, this residence pathway remains available for any critical health worker entering New Zealand with a role 6 months or longer.   The residence category will close after 31 July.

5 – Accreditation will be required to support a migrant employee in the longer run.

Depending on your medical practitioner’s performance as well any shifts in your business, you might want to keep them on permanently once their initial contract expires.

In order to support your employee on a work visa from 4th July 2022, your business will need to be accredited by Immigration New Zealand. This will allow you to support and retain your employee on an Accredited Employer Work Visa.

While it is possible that you may not find yourself needing to support an employee on an AEWV, it is better to be safe than sorry. After all, NZ is looking increasingly attractive to the rest of the world, and many highly qualified professionals are considering NZ as a long-term option. If your candidate does decide that they wish to stay in NZ longer-term while they are working for you, you will need to support them on a valid work visa. And in order to do this from mid-2022 onwards, you will first need to be accredited by INZ.

Once these massive policy changes take place, not being accredited can not only delay your hiring process, but could also lead to your candidate moving to another facility that may be able to support them quicker.

6 – NZ’s immigration policies will impact your hiring and retention abilities.

We understand that you don’t want to have to worry about NZ border and immigration policies changing while you attempt to hire medical practitioners from overseas, but the truth is that immigration policy changes are inevitable and unavoidable.

Ensure your hiring and HR processes don’t grind to a halt when change occurs – work with a partner who can not only support you through immigration changes, but can ensure your HR and contracting processes align with the most up to date immigration policies.

Aims Global can support you through all of the above. Not only will we simplify any and all immigration matters – ensuring you understand what relevant policies mean for your organization, and take the right steps for your business – but the HR arm of our organisation will also ensure you have the right processes and documentation in place, enabling you to achieve your immigration goals.

If you’d like to learn more about immigration changes and what they mean for your organisation, we encourage you to subscribe to our monthly newsletter where we’ll break down complex immigration policies and provide practical tips on how to navigate visa situations.

– Arunima Dhingra, CEO Aims Global & Principal Licensed Immigration Adviser #200900407

Arunima is an established immigration adviser in New Zealand. As the Founder and Director of Aims Global, she has been providing immigration advice and support to businesses and migrants for over 15 years. In 2017 she won NZAMI’s prestigious Immigration Adviser/Lawyer of the Year Award as well as the Community Outreach Award. For the last few years, Arunima has been serving as a Board Director for NZAMI – NZ’s largest association of immigration advisers and lawyers – and is also Chairing the Policy Committee for the association for the third year. Arunima is also the founder of GratitudeNZ (gratitudenz.org) – a charity aimed at empowering the next generation and breaking the cycle of child poverty in NZ.