As a disclaimer I will mention that in no way can I offer any legal immigration advise and everything I say in regards to New Zealand immigration has been from my own experience. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to help, but if you need a immigration lawyer I am sadly not your chick!
When I first came to New Zealand it was as a tourist, however I got a working holiday visa as I was unsure of how long I would be here. Coming from Canada I can get either a 1 or 2 year Working Holiday visa and I chose to do the 1 year. In hindsight a wish I would have gotten the 2 year one as I have since extended my visa (from various life circumstances) for another year. My best advice to anyone looking to get a Working Holiday Visa is to get it for as long as you can! Even if it’s a bit more money. You can always leave early but it’s very hard to extend it once you’ve already gotten one!
If you’re looking to get a Working Holiday Visa I’m going to go through the steps for that and much more in this new blog series: New Zealand Adventures
Getting the Visa
The very first step in traveling to New Zealand is to make sure you can legally travel to New Zealand! There are a variety of visas to chose from and depending on your country of residence you may not need one if you’re going to be staying less than 3 months. While the new Immigration New Zealand website is much more appealing to look at, it’s still hard to navigate around and often I ended up googling the visa number I needed as it wouldn’t come up on their actual website. I will put as many links as I can so hopefully everyone can quickly get to where they need to be! All of this information is if you’re a Canadian looking to travel to New Zealand. If you’re from a different country it should be a very similar process but potentially different fees and conditions, so please read up on those.
- Find out what visa is right for you! I’m only going to go over the 2 main visa’s as there are hundreds. These are the two most popular for travellers.
Visitor Visa: If you’re from one of these countries (or from the UK where it is up to 6 months, you lucky ducks) you DO NOT need a visa if you plan to stay in New Zealand less than 3 months. You WILL need to have a plane ticket to your next destination that is before those 3 months are up. If you plan on staying longer than 3 months but less than 9 months, and don’t want to work than a visitor visa is the one for you! Click here to go and start the visa application process. It is a visa you can apply for online and is very straightforward. You should have no problems going through it BUT, if you do, feel free to send me a message and I’ll help you out as best I can (See my disclaimer at the top). This visa is $165 for for a Canadian.
Working Holiday Visa: If you’re looking to stay longer than 9 months, or want to work to pay for your travels around New Zealand, then a Working Holiday Visa is the one for you! This visa is $208 for the 23 month working holiday visa. This is a visa you can fill out online and in the next section I will explain exactly how to do so.
2. Fill Out the Application: Working Holiday
As the visitor visa is relatively straight forward I’m going to focus this on the Working Holiday Visa
Click here to go to the Working Holiday Application page, it should look like this:
Scroll all the way to the bottom and click the “Apply Now” button. You will then need to create and account or log in if you have one. Once you’ve created an account it will bring you to the online homepage which looks like this:
On the left of the page click ‘Working Holiday Visa’ and it will bring you to the online section to complete the visa. Once you select what country you’re from (in this case Canada) it will bring you to a section where you must answer all of the questions. These are relatively easy questions to answer as they are all about you! Remember, immigration New Zealand is trying to make sure you’re a good candidate to let into their country, so it’s best not to lie to them! Make sure all of your details are put in as they are now. So if you’re living in Canada put your Canadian address, not the one you’ll be living at in New Zealand.
Identification: You MUST have a valid passport to travel to New Zealand, so they will ask for your passport details. It’s very important your passport doesn’t expire within the next 6 months or they can’t accept your application. So go get a new one if yours is almost expired! You will also need a secondary form of identification, such as a drivers license. Again it must be valid.
Occupational Details: This is where they want to know what you do for a living. You’re not filling out a job application so don’t worry about it if you’re currently unemployed, just put what occupation you’re good at/what your last job was. This is to help you find a job once you’re there as they can send you relevant information if there’s a job vacancy.
Your Health: I’ll be frank with you about this one, they want to make sure you’re not going to their country to die, give birth or to infect others. They have to do this to protect their country and it’s for their health and yours. So be honest here. If you are getting the 23 month visa you will need to get a medical exam that includes chest X-rays and blood tests. I am the biggest baby when it comes to doctors and needles, but I managed to get this done with minimal tears. Don’t let the fear of needles hold you back from an amazing experience! Your doctor can do this for you so give them a call and explain what you need. If you’re applying from Canada they can do an e-medical, which is where they send your medical exam to immigration NZ for you and it will be attached to your visa. You won’t need to fill out the form right away and they will most likely email you after you finish the application with the forms you need, BUT if they don’t you can find them here: Consent form for your doctor to send away your medical information and What to bring to your exam. The cost of these exams should be covered under your insurance but make sure to check with your health care provider about it!
Character: If you’ve had any major felonies you sadly probably won’t be eligible for this visa. However, if your criminal background is clear than this section will be a lot of “No’s” and you should be all good!
Working Holiday Specifics: In this section they are just making sure you haven’t been issued a working holiday visa from NZ before and what your travel plans are. The first time I went to New Zealand I had no clue they needed to see ‘evidence of funds’ and had a little freak out at the airport thinking they were going to send me home because I didn’t have $3000 in my bank account. Needless to say, they didn’t. In fact no one even checked. That being said, the reason this is here is so they know you can support yourself while traveling in New Zealand and won’t have to resort to sex work to pay for your meals and board. So as long as you’re going with the amount of money you need to survive and have a plan for where you’re going to work and stay, you should be all good.
That is the entire Working Holiday Visa and I wish you the best of luck with your application! If you have any questions while filling it out don’t hesitate to reach out to me! I can’t offer any legal advise and obviously can’t tell you what to put in the application besides the truth about who you are. But I get how confusing visas can be and I wished there was someone to help me out when I applied for my first one.
Make sure to be following me on Facebook and in my emailing list on the right of the page for the newest blog posts! Next step is getting your IRD number so you can start making money! See how to do that Here: The IRD Number
Travel Advice: Best thing to bring with you on your trip? A notebook! So handy for writing down flight information, lock combos in hostels, bus schedules and little things you don’t want to forget. Something like this is the perfect travel companion as it fits even in a purse!