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Residency shambles for essential health staff

Residency shambles for essential health staff demands urgent response

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists Toi Mata Hauora is calling on the Government to urgently address residency difficulties for doctors and other desperately needed health workers.

Immigration lawyer Kamil Lakshman told RNZ today that the Work to Residence visa process for doctors and nurses should be fast-tracked, particularly given the Covid pandemic.


There has been a long pause in processing expressions of interest from skilled migrants for residency visas, with no indication of when processing will resume.

ASMS Executive Director Sarah Dalton says it’s creating a lot of frustration and angst.

“Overseas doctors caught up in this delay say the uncertainty makes it difficult. They feel they can’t buy a house, settle their families, or put down roots, and are being forced to reconsider their futures in New Zealand”.

New Zealand relies heavily on overseas trained specialists – about 43% of the medical workforce is overseas trained – the second highest level in the OECD.

“It takes a significant amount of time, and investment by DHBs to bring a specialist here from overseas. It is a terrific waste of tax-payer funds to see them pack up and leave as a direct consequence of the failings of our immigration service,” Sarah Dalton says.

“The current approach to managing their pathway to residency is shambolic and could become a worrying contributor to our shortage of medical specialists”.

ASMS raised concerns about the residency delays in June, writing to the Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi in June.


Sarah Dalton says unfortunately there has been “zero response”.

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