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How To Apply for a New Zealand Visa

Kia Ora! That means Hello in the Maori language. New Zealand has become one of the many countries people are visiting or migrating to. The laid-back lifestyle, the wonderful beaches, the awesome scenery, one of the best places to raise children based on an international survey, the friendly and helpful people, the freedom to be yourself. This country has signed into law that gay couples are allowed to marry in civil union. Have you seen “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” movies? They were all shot in this wonderful country of less than 5 million people and keeps on growing. New Zealand is the youngest country in the world, as according to Wikipedia the Maoris who first discovered the country arrived only about 700 to 800 years ago, while the first European explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman discovered it on 13 December 1642.

There are so many awesome things to discover when you’re traveling here and so I’m sharing with you the following tips to apply for a visa. Please note the views expressed in this article are based on few conversations with locals, travelers and migrants, and from printed and online articles.


One of the many wonderful beaches in New Zealand. My own photo.

The best time to visit

You might be wondering when is the best time to visit New Zealand. The country has four seasons and the months of these seasons are different from those in the Northern Hemisphere such as United States, Canada and Japan for example. Summer season runs from Christmas time in December to February. Autumn is from March to May. Winter is from June until August. Spring is from September to November.

For those who might feel cold easily, summer season is the best time to come. Autumn and spring seasons are still good times to visit; there are occasional rains and winds though so bring a sweater or jacket, scarf, socks and gloves aside from the usual clothes just in case. Winter season is also popular especially those who love skiing, snowboarding, and other winter activities. You need to bring thermals, thicker socks, and much thicker jacket, coat, and sweater. There are many things you can do in any season of the year, and so please check this article for activities happening each month.

Which visa can I apply for?

Below are the different types of visas you can apply for. Because each visa has different requirements, I’ve chosen instead to provide links for each type so you can check directly from the website. As I’ve written this post a year ago, I have updated this post with new links as Immigration New Zealand has done a major website design change. Please note that this is just a general list, and immigration rules change all the time without prior notice, so it’s best to check the Immigration NZ website regularly. This is a government department, not an agency.

Visitor Visa – check this list to see if your country is part of the visa waiver list as no visa is required to visit New Zealand. Otherwise, explore the visitor visa options you can get when typing in your details.

Student Visa – If you want to study in New Zealand, you can do that at the same time do part-time or full-time work. Now this depends on what type of student visa you’re getting though, and the only way to know is if it specifically says that you are allowed to work in the country. To see if you’re qualified for a visa, explore all student visa options.

Work Visa – You also have the opportunity to work in the country. Many students have successfully found work as well as those who have the skills needed by many industries. Have a look at this link to check which work visa suits you best when entering your details. You can also check out the complete list of work visas available. If you are in a relationship with someone, you can apply for either a Partner of a Student Work Visa if your partner is currently on a student visa or Partner of a New Zealander Work Visa if your partner is a New Zealand citizen or resident. For those who would like to stay after graduating from an NZ university, polytechnic or technical institution, you can get a Post-Study Work Visa, whether an Open Post-Study Work Visa or an Employer-Assisted Post-Study Work Visa. For those who have specific skills, like engineering, construction, nursing, and IT related, check this Skill Shortage Lists link to see if you qualify, and then check the requirements for Immediate Skill Shortage category, Long-term Skill Shortage category, the Canterbury Skill Shortage category, and a List of Skilled Occupations. Even if you feel you are qualified, you still need to apply for a visa though.

Silver Fern Visa – This is another type of work visa but you need to get the first one called the Silver Fern Job Search visa in order to get the second one, which is the Silver Fern Practical Experience visa. The former has a quota of 300 places, open to anyone from around the world, and only accepts online applications. It opens in November every year, although this could be subject to change. The latter, on the other hand, only applies when you got the Job Search visa and have successfully found a job within nine months. It’s a points-based system and so you have to follow their requirements to successfully get this visa. As mentioned earlier, this is an online-based application.

Working Holiday Scheme – this allows travelers to work in New Zealand with an employer for a specific time. You can check here for country-specific working holiday agreements with the government. For those in the Philippines, I’m happy to inform that both the New Zealand and Philippine governments have signed an agreement for Filipinos to travel and work in New Zealand for a specified time. Places are open February of every year, though this may be subject to change. Here’s a link for more info on the Philippines Working Holiday Scheme, including requirements and how to apply. Please note though that this may not be the best way to gain residency if you plan on living in New Zealand for a long time. You can also apply online for this type of visa.

Family Stream Visa – If you have family here in New Zealand and you wish to move and live with them permanently, here’s a complete list of family visas and see which one applies best to you. Otherwise, explore family visa options by entering your details.

Business / Investor Visa – Information is available f you want to set up a business or invest in New Zealand. Otherwise, check which one best applies.

Residence Visa – whether through work, relationship with a partner, or through a family member, getting a residence visa is the next stage. This usually lasts for one to two years.

Permanent Residence Visa – Usually valid for five years before applying for citizenship. Only possible when you have residence visa for a number of years depending on how you got the residence visa in the first place. Read more about how to apply to live permanently here in New Zealand.

For my fellow Filipinos, there are two NZ Visa Service offices in the Philippines, one in Manila and another in Cebu. When applying for NZ visa within the Philippines, please go to VFS Global NZ Philippines website on how to apply. Take note of their contact numbers and office hours when lodging applications or calling their customer service hotline. For those based overseas, here’s a list of international NZ visa service offices so just click on the one that applies the most to you. You can also use the Visa Options Check service to immediately see which one you’re eligible for. Please note you still need to apply to Immigration NZ for approval.


Frequently Asked Questions

1.) How much is the application fee?

Check for visa application fees to be paid when applying in your home country.

2.) How much money do I need for a visitor visa?

It depends on the number of days or months you intend to stay and how many places you’d like to visit.  For a visitor’s visa, for example, the minimum amount you need for a month’s stay per person is $1,000 NZD. That means a weekly budget of $250 NZD or about $35.71 NZD per day. For a Silver Fern Job Search visa, however, the minimum requirement is $4,200 NZD for the entire nine-month stay in the country. So it really depends on the visa type you’re applying for. Take note of the minimum requirements because living in New Zealand can be expensive. You need to consider daily costs of accommodation, food, petrol or gas for the car if you’re renting or buying one, and possible unexpected expenses. If you know someone and they have a room for you to stay either for free or for a little money, that’s great. However, if you have very limited budget, visit CouchSurfing and Airbnb for more accommodation options. You also have to set aside additional money for your round-trip or return tickets. So the general rule is that the more money you have set aside for the trip, the better you can present to the immigration officer of your intentions.

3.) Am I required to undergo medical examination?

If you’re from a visa-waiver country, then there may be no need for it. Otherwise, they would definitely require you to undergo a medical examination to check if you’re fit enough to visit New Zealand. Check this link for more info on how to do a health and medical check for your application. Also check this list of INZ-authorized doctors to do medical tests on applicants. Just type the country you are in when applying, and the list will be provided. You will notice the items marked with a check, just leave them as is. For those based in the Philippines, here’s the list of doctors.

4.) Is there an option to apply online?

Yes, you can now apply online. As of this writing, this only applies though for Expression of Interest for Skilled Migrant visa, Silver Fern Job Search visa, and Working Holiday visa. However, kindly check with the nearest NZ Visa Services Office if you are allowed to apply online. By mid-June this year, INZ is planning to add more online services so check with the website regularly for more updates.

5.) Can I purchase return tickets before applying for NZ visa?

It’s best to wait until your visa is officially approved before buying or booking anything. Once you get approved, you need to get return or round-trip tickets so you can present this to the immigration officers at a New Zealand airport that you are definitely going home before your visa expires.

6.) Do I need an Immigration Agent to help me apply for visa?

There are a few people I know of who’ve applied for NZ visa through an immigration agency specializing in NZ visas. For this friend, she hasn’t applied for a job yet but she does have a skill that falls under either the immediate or long term skill shortage lists and so she applied with the help of NZ Immigration Help Service agency with offices in the Philippines and New Zealand. Whether you need the immigration agency’s assistance depends on whether you can actually afford to pay for their services. But as long as you understand English very well and you know how to follow instructions, then you can just apply for the visa yourself.

7.) Can I apply for job even on a visitor visa?

Once granted a visitor visa, if it states there in the visa label that “the holder shall not undertake employment in NZ” then that means you are definitely not allowed to find work and apply for jobs. The only thing that bothers me is when a person is not following his or her visa conditions because once found out, the immigration authorities can deport them back to their home countries. So just proceed with caution and follow your visa conditions well. This is also for the benefit of your fellow countrymen in the future when they plan to come here also.

8.) Can I use my qualifications in getting a job in New Zealand?

Now this is where some migrants have the most difficulty accepting. Especially those who have specialist training and experience in engineering, IT, nursing, social work, and many others. Despite the country being considered First World and also open to migrants, most employers actually prefer those who have local New Zealand working experience or at least studying further here before applying for work. Also the educational requirements related to the specialist training you got in your home country are very different here. Although there are a few instances where someone can get a job without any local work experience, you have to demonstrate to them that you can do the job very well, much more than the locals do even without that local experience. Even then, it may be best to do volunteer work experience here even for just a few months without pay. This is actually to your advantage so you’d know what the workplace culture is like.

My first and only volunteer work experience was at a Salvation Army op-shop or charity shop for a few months as shop assistant. I initially worked 5 full-time days a week, and then gradually went to part-time. I did this for about three months without pay.  That was a great experience that led to a one-year full-time work stint at an online photo album company and now my current part-time job in a department store.

9.) What’s the interview process?

Kindly check with the nearest NZ Visa Service Office what the interview process will be for you. It may vary with the location where you’re lodging the application.

I hope this article helps in making your own travel plans to New Zealand. Find out what it’s like to live and work here. If you have been approved, let me know how it goes. Would love to see and hear of your experiences when you do come here. Until then, have a happy and safe travel!

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: 13 Things To Do When Traveling or Migrating to New Zealand |

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