International locum tenens brings adventure and the experience of a lifetime, but the pandemic has also made traveling to your destination more complicated. New visa restrictions, fewer flights, testing requirements, and mandatory quarantines all pose unique challenges, but the Global Medical Staffing team has experts devoted to making the process as easy as possible. Here’s what you need to know about international locum tenens travel during COVID for assignments in New Zealand, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Since New Zealand has all but eradicated COVID-19 from the islands, they are one of the strictest nations for travelers entering the country. Guidelines include testing prior to departure, mandatory quarantining upon arrival to the islands, as well as changes to visa requirements.
Visa and travel requirements
Once an assignment has been confirmed, the GMS team will immediately begin coordinating with the Medical Council of New Zealand to apply for your registration, which is similar to the process of getting licensed by a U.S. state.
Upon approval from the Medical Council of New Zealand, we’ll work with you to submit the required immigration applications for both you and any dependent family members who may be traveling with you. At present, physicians traveling to New Zealand can only do so on a critical worker visa. As with any New Zealand visa, there may be additional requirements for family members traveling with you, such as proof of partnership and birth certificates for children. Additionally, this current visa is a one-time entry visa, so the GMS team will assist you and your family as applicable in obtaining the appropriate visas once you have arrived in country.
It takes an average of two-and-a-half to three weeks for New Zealand to review, consider, and approve the visa application, but timing may vary based on the volume of applications they receive.
COVID-19 testing prior to departure
Air New Zealand is also doing its part to minimize or eliminate the threat of reintroducing the virus to the islands. As of January 15, 2021, a traveler arriving in New Zealand from the U.S. or U.K. must present at the airline with both a managed isolation voucher and a negative COVID-19 test that was administered no more than 72 hours prior to departure. Your GMS team will work with you to coordinate obtaining the voucher and the timing of the test.
Since pandemic-related travel testing requirements and restrictions are fluid, for the most up-to-date information check out New Zealand’s Pre-Departure Testing page on their government’s Managed Isolation and Quarantine page.
Quarantine upon entry
New Zealand is committed to remaining virus free, so they’re vigilant about any non-citizens who enter the country. Once you and any dependent family members traveling with you have safely arrived in New Zealand, you will be greeted by government officials and sent to a managed isolation facility to ensure containment of COVID-19. More information about this process is available on New Zealand’s managed isolation website. There is a cost associated with quarantine. Ask your recruiter for more information.
Two beautiful islands in the middle of the Pacific — Guam and Saipan — are stunning locations for a locums assignment. However, Guam and Saipan have also been impacted by the coronavirus and are doing what they can to curb the spread of the virus. Here’s what you need to know when planning your assignment to Guam or Saipan.
Mandatory testing and quarantine
Guam has mandatory quarantine guidelines for all travelers; however, there is an exception for essential healthcare professionals and critical services workers (mission essential). This means you must present two things upon arrival at the port of entry:
1. A pre-approval letter from the Acting Director of the Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services (DPHSS) stating you are approved. This application will be submitted on your behalf by the hospital.
2. A valid COVID-negative test that indicates you were tested no more than five days prior to arrival.
These two requirements will exempt you from quarantine at the Government of Guam Quarantine Facility and you may be allowed to quarantine at your place of residence and report to work.
One caveat: if your flight has a layover in Hawaii that’s overnight where you may leave a secure area, you’ll be required to get tested by one of their approved vendors prior to departure to the Guam or Saipan.
Visa and airline requirements
Since Guam is a U.S. territory and Saipan is a commonwealth of the U.S., United States citizens don’t require a visa for entry. However, there are airline restrictions.
United Airlines is the only airline that flies to these destinations, and you will be required to follow their requirements when traveling to Guam and Saipan. For more information or questions about these requirements, contact your recruiter.
U.S. Virgin Islands
The U.S. Virgin Islands are a much sought-after travel destination for their beauty, but the pandemic has hit these locations particularly hard. The Centers for Disease Control has labeled the Islands a Level 4 as of mid-January, reporting “very high” COVID-19 levels, and their department of health has labeled their current status as “Safer at Home.” Their government has also declared a public health state of emergency, with a “no mask, no service” policy. Now more than ever, the U.S. Virgin Islands needs critical healthcare coverage.
The U.S. Virgin Island’s website has a travel screening portal that locums — and all family members — must complete no more than five days before their planned arrival. One requirement is a negative COVID-19 test five days prior to arrival; the test must be taken and the negative results must be submitted on the travel screening portal. If travelers are unable to produce the approval code given by the travel portal, they will not be able to board the plane.
There are no exemptions specifically for healthcare workers; the travel screening portal is for anyone who travels to the U.S. Virgin Islands.
For more detailed information, view the U.S. Virgin Islands Travel Advisory guidelines or check with your recruiter.
Visa and airline requirements
If you’re a U.S. citizen, you are not required to have a visa to enter the Virgin Islands since they’re a U.S. territory. However, Qantas does require a valid passport to travel there.
24/7 support from your GMS team
Regardless of your destination, Global Medical Staffing will be with you every step of the way, making your international locum tenens travel during COVID as stress-free as possible.
For more information about traveling to these or any other international locations for a locum tenens assignment, call us at 1.800.760.3174 or ask your question in the comments below.
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Jen Hunter has been a marketing writer for over 20 years. She enjoys telling the stories of healthcare providers and sharing new, relevant, and the most up-to-date information on the healthcare front. Jen lives in Salt Lake City, UT, with her husband, two kids, and their geriatric black Lab. She enjoys all things outdoors-y, but most of all she loves rock climbing in the Wasatch mountains.