What is the Acceptable Standard of Health (ASH)

In short, the Acceptable Standard of Health (ASH) requirements set out criteria that most people applying for most kinds of visas in New Zealand have to meet.

The ASH instructions classify a huge range of disabilities and health conditions as potentially expensive, or as being a demand on health or education services.

If you have one of those disabilities or health conditions, you usually need a medical waiver (though not for the 2021 Residency Visa).

There are some conditions which the ASH criteria state never qualify for a medical waiver at all.

For those who might be able to get a medical waiver, there are various considerations, apart from the cost or demand to health and education services, like having family in NZ, or being able to make a “significant contribution” which Immigration NZ are meant to take into consideration in their decision.

In practice, experience from a significant number of migrants shows it’s incredibly difficult to get the necessary waiver, even with a favourable medical assessment from a GP and letters of recommendation from friends and colleagues. Sometimes, a waiver is granted for a study or work visa and then is not when applying for residency.

If a waiver isn’t granted, migrants will generally need to hire a lawyer to assist with appeals processes, which is expensive and not something everyone can afford. Some people will also be forced to stop studying or working because their existing visa has run out during this process.

Appealing involves first going to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal, and, if that fails, requesting the intervention of the Minister of Immigration. Having the support of your local MP can help in the appeals process.

Sometimes, speaking out in the media can also help build pressure.

2021 One-off Residency visa

The health requirements for the one-off 2021 Residency Visa are more limited. In short, those who would normally need to apply for a medical waiver should now be granted one without needing to fight for it, and this is known as receiving a “Limited medical certificate”. However, those impacted by any of the criteria under which it wasn’t previously possible to even apply for a medical waiver will still not meet the health requirements under the 2021 Residency Visa, unless they can et a medical assessment which has a different opinion about whether they fall under those criteria.

Who we are

Migrants Against the Acceptable Standard of Health is a grassroots migrant collective campaigning to end disability and health discrimination in Aotearoa New Zealand’s immigration system by getting rid of the Acceptable Standard of Health requirements.

We are led by migrants, refugees and families directly affected by ASH discrimination.