Acceptable Standard of Health

Information about INZ's Acceptable Standard of Health requirement.

24 October 2023
4 minute read

If you are applying for a New Zealand visa you may need to undergo a medical assessment to show you have an acceptable standard of health. Before we can approve your residence or temporary visa application, we check you meet the visa’s criteria.

The criteria helps us decide if we should decline or approve your application.

With the acceptable standard of health criteria, we look to see if:

  • you are a risk to public health
  • you are going to add significant cost to, or demands on, New Zealand's health services
  • you are going to qualify for Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) funding
  • your health may stop you working or studying, if this is what the visa is for.

Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) — Ministry of Education

An example of the types of questions included in an INZ immigration medical examination form is available in our General Medical Certificate form.

General Medical Certificate (INZ 1007) PDF 517KB

New Zealand’s publicly funded health system is a common good. Citizens, residents and people on work visas who are in New Zealand longer-term (with a visa over 2 years or more) have automatic access to our health system. There is no option to opt out of the health system as it provides universal coverage. Under immigration requirements, all applicants must have an acceptable standard of health to be granted a visa.

If an applicant does not have an acceptable standard of health, there are multiple possible outcomes for their visa application. For example, they may be granted a medical waiver, or an exception to instructions (the criteria that visa applicants must meet). This is all decided on a case-by-case basis.

Acceptable standard of health criteria for visa approvals

Immigration health screening settings do not discriminate against individuals, but focus on assessing the likely impact of that individual’s medical condition on New Zealand’s public health services, special education services and on the health of the NZ public.

Obesity

The immigration medical examination that visa applicants may be required to undergo, collects a wide range of health information including an applicant’s weight, however, this is only one of many considerations.

Obesity alone does not mean that a visa applicant does not have an acceptable standard of health.

Obesity can be a risk factor for medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

If a visa applicant has such associated conditions, they may be determined not to have an acceptable standard of health and their application could be declined.

For a resident visa application, a medical waiver may be able to be granted. The medical waiver process takes into account a number of factors including the objectives of the category they are applying under, the applicant’s connection to New Zealand and their likely contribution.

BMI

A Body Mass Index (BMI) measurement on its own is not currently used as a measure of whether a visa applicant has an acceptable standard of health or not. INZ medical assessors consider other health conditions and use a combination of tools to assist in determining associated risks.

BMI has been required in INZ immigration medical examinations since April 2005 as a tool to assist in identifying obesity. We acknowledge that measuring BMI is imperfect and that it does not differentiate between body fat and muscle mass and that there are limitations in its applicability given that body fat distribution differs by ethnicity and other variables.

In some cases, INZ may defer the applicant’s visa application for 3 months to allow time for them to begin reducing their BMI and to address any associated health conditions.