It’s been almost 6 months since I left home and started my travels in New Zealand. Since then, quite a few people have asked me how I’ve managed to stay here for so long. So I decided to write a blog post about Working Holiday visas and how to get one!
Firstly, a Working Holiday visa is a special permit granted by certain countries that allow visitors to undertake employment while they travel. In New Zealand, most visitors are allowed one year to travel and work. Although if you’re a resident of the UK you can stay for up to 24 months (lucky ducks!) Most of the jobs available to travelers on WH visas are seasonal or temporary, but it is possible to get a sponsorship to work longer and extend your stay.
For Americans, I think the process of getting a New Zealand WH visa is pretty simple. Here is the list of qualifications from the New Zealand Immigration website:
1. Must be a permanent resident of a country that New Zealand offers Working Holiday Visas to (see list below).
2. Have a passport that’s valid for at least three months after your planned departure from New Zealand.
3. Must be between the ages of 18-30.
4. Not bring children with you.
5. Have a return ticket or proof that you have enough funds to get yourself out of the country at the end of your working holiday.
6. Have a minimum of $4200 NZD in your bank account to meet the costs of living while you’re looking for a job.
7. Meet health requirements, meaning that you cannot have a pre-existing medical condition that would require regular doctor/hospital visits during your stay. For countries that are high risk for TB, they also may ask for a medical or x-ray certificate.
8. Must meet character requirements. Basically meaning no criminal record, no history of deportation, not likely to be a threat to national security, etc.
9. Must not have been approved for a NZ working holiday before.
10. Must have some form of insurance to cover medical costs if needed (travel insurance is a must anywhere you go!).
If you meet all of these requirements, you can create an account on the immigration website and fill out an online application (or if you wish, you can fill one out manually here). Depending on where you are applying from, there may or may not be a fee needed when turning in your application. For U.S. residents, it’s free to apply online outside of New Zealand. If you apply while you’re already in New Zealand, it’s $140 USD.
After you send in your application, they’ll say that it takes about a week or two to hear back. I got my confirmation in just a few days however, so it may not even take that long. Upon receiving my confirmation, I was surprised how simple and unofficial the papers seemed to appear. No letterhead or anything, just plain text. I actually compared mine to friends visiting from other countries and theirs looked the same, so don’t worry if your visa doesn’t look very official. Just don’t forget to print it out before you leave for the airport!
Upon Arrival In New Zealand
You will need your passport, a paper copy of your Working Holiday Visa, and a bank statement to prove your funds. Going through customs was very quick and easy. The officer barely glanced at my Working Holiday printout and didn’t even ask to see my bank statement. He was more concerned about soil contamination from the dirt on the bottom of my shoes. It’s still a good idea to be prepared and have your documents ready when you arrive. For those who plan on bringing tents: be sure to properly clean the stakes and poles before arrival as they do check those for soil contamination as well.
So that’s how to get a working holiday visa in New Zealand! Easy as!