Step 2: get a working holiday visa
That’s usually the part where people puff, grunt and stomp their foot. Nobody wants to be buried in paperwork trying to deal with the immigration process of a foreign country. And you know what? I did not want to do that either.
Let’s start with the most obvious question of all: do you need a visa for New Zealand and if so, do you need a working holiday visa?
The answer is: yes and because it gives you freedom.
Many countries can come to New Zealand as a tourist for up to three months without a visa. However, New Zealand is not that cheap. It is not expensive, but not cheap either. So assuming that you are not Mark Zuckerberg, you will need to work along the way to pay for your travel expenses. People usually work about a third to half of their time here. In order to do this, you’ll need a working holiday visa.
Another great reason to get a working holiday visa is the opportunity to explore New Zealand for longer – up to 12 months (and up to 23 months for UK citizens). New Zealand has a lot to offer, so the more time you have, the better.
Finally, working abroad is highly valuable nowadays. Don’t leave a blank space on your CV, add “out of the box” experiences that broaden your horizons, open your mind to new ideas, and teach you life skills. Employers will love it!
Now you understand why lodging your application for a working holiday visa is a must.
It is easy to do it yourself! It would be stupid to pay immigration agents to do it for you, especially since they charge crazy high fees. Lodging an application only costs NZ$165 (and is free for a few countries like Finland and USA). The process is online only and, in all fairness, not that complicated. But before we talk about the process, let’s quickly look at the requirements of the New Zealand working holiday visa.
The requirements for a Working Holiday Visa in New Zealand:
- Be between 18 and 30 years old (35 years old for selected countries)
- Have proof of at least NZ$4200 available
- Have a valid passport
- Be from one of the 42 selected countries
- Have a return flight ticket of sufficient funds to buy one
Note that many countries have different conditions, but those above are the common ones. Check your country’s conditions on this page.
To apply for the New Zealand working holiday visa, you will only need to equip yourself with your passport and credit card. Now you may be one of those that believe that having a credit card is opening the door of financial hell, and you may be right, so simply borrow the credit card of your parents or friend. It does not need to be a credit card under your name, just a Visa or MasterCard. Obviously, make sure that the person whose money you are spending is aware that you are doing so!
steps to applying for a working holiday visa in New Zealand
There are 3 steps to applying for a working holiday visa in New Zealand:
- Register on the Immigration New Zealand website:
- You will simply need to create an account. It’s like Facebook but more serious.
- Apply for a "Working Holiday Visa":
- You will need to lodge an online application for your working holiday visa. It usually takes 30 minutes to fill out a series of questions. The categories of questions asked are: Personal, Health, Character and Working Holiday Specific. Nothing major, it is more time consuming than complicated.
- Paying for your visa:
- As mentioned previously, you will need to pay your visa fee via Visa or MasterCard credit card only. It is worth noting that your application will not be processed until your payment has cleared, so pay straight away. Again, note that some countries do not have to pay a fee. So no panic if you are from USA or Finland, you can just forget this step.
Complete guides on how to apply for your working holiday visa in New Zealand
For those that are curious about what the process looks like and/or need a little extra help, I have found for you two very complete guides on how to apply for your working holiday visa in New Zealand.
The first one is an Interactive Working Holiday Visa Online Application Guide from Working Holiday Starter, an organisation that supports backpackers during their gap year in New Zealand. Aside from been overwhelmingly optimistic (come on guys, 15 minutes for the whole process?! You’re dreaming! It took me, like, 30 minutes) the guide is well made and split into the three parts described above, so you can jump right to the page you need.
The second one is a Working Holiday Visa Online Application Guide by BackpackerGuide.NZ. BackpackerGuide.NZ should be your favorite website (aside from mine, of course) if you have any interest about backpacking or taking a gap year in NZ. They have 100s of awesome articles. Their application guide is the most complete I could find, with every page described with instructions and notes if needed. Find the orange square on the capt. screen to know where to look or click.
With all that, applying for your visa should be a breeze. Then it is a waiting game. I have heard all kinds of stories: some had to wait two weeks, some a couple of days, and some only a few hours. It seems that 3-4 days is the most common time frame to receive your visa approval email. Then just print your e-visa from your Immigration New Zealand page.
Because many people seem confused about “where to find their visa” here is a quick tip: log onto your Immigration New Zealand account, click on “My application” then “Details” and print your e-visa.
Terms and conditions
Before jumping to the next step, let’s look at the conditions of your working holiday visa:
- Your visa will be valid for 12 months from entry date in New Zealand
- You can only apply once for a working holiday visa in New Zealand
- You can extend it three months if you work in horticulture or viticulture for three months
- You will have to enter New Zealand within 12 months of visa approval
- You can exit and re-enter New Zealand as many times as you want during those 12 months
- You can work for multiple employers at the same time
Again, some countries have different conditions so make sure to check your country’s requirements here.
Congratulations, you have done the hardest part of this step-by-step guide! The rest will be a piece of cake.