How to Apply for a Work Holiday Visa in New Zealand

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I’ve always wanted to go to New Zealand, mostly because it’s almost literally as far away from home as I can get while I’m still on this planet. Australia has an equal appeal, but as I’m lucky enough to have visited there already there’s slightly less mystique attached.

Wherever I travel, and at home in the UK, I run into Aussies and Kiwi’s doing what one described to me as their “cultural rite of passage” – a year working abroad. Personally, I think this is a great idea and next year I’m going to reciprocate and take advantage of the wonderful institution that is the work/holiday visa.

This post will deal with the requirements if you’re planning on heading to New Zealand; if Australia is your plan then head to my sister post How to Apply for a Work/Holiday Visa in Australia.

So, What is a Work Holiday Visa?

Work/Holiday visas let young people (between 18 and 30) from countries with reciprocal agreements stay in New Zealand for up to a year (up to 23months if you’re British) to travel and support themselves with casual or temporary work. The main purpose of your trip has to be travel, so there are various limitations depending on which country you’re applying to visit and where you’re from.

Who is Eligible and How Do you Apply?

New Zealand has Work/Holiday agreements with: Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, United Kingdom, Uruguay, and the United States of America.

I’ve summarized the information for applicants from North America and the UK – if you’re from somewhere else, here’s where I got my information from and full details can be found there.

General Conditions:

  • You must be a citizen of a country with a working holiday agreement with New Zealand, and hold a valid passport for that country;
  • You have to meet Working Holiday basic requirements including:
    • Age – you must be aged no less than 18 years old and no more than 30 years old
    • health and character prerequisites;
  • You must meet any specific criteria relating to where you’re from including the length of stay, available funds
  • You need to either have a return ticket home (or out of New Zealand), or sufficient funds to purchase such a ticket.
  • You can’t be accompanied by children.
  • You can’t have previously held or qualified for a Working Holiday Visa for New Zealand before.

Specific Conditions for North America:

Canada

This scheme allows 2,000 young citizens of Canada annually:

  • To be issued a Work Visa valid for travel for 12 months from date of issue, and upon arrival in New Zealand to be granted a Work Permit for a maximum of 12 months; or
  • If applying from within New Zealand, to be granted a Work Permit valid for a maximum of 12 months.

To be eligible for a Work Visa/Permit under this scheme, applicants must:

  • Be citizens of Canada at the time of applying; and
  • Have a minimum of NZ$4,200 available funds for their maintenance during the period of stay in New Zealand.

United States of America

This scheme allows 5,000 young citizens of the United States of America (USA) annually:

  • To be issued a Work Visa valid for travel for 12 months from date of issue, and upon arrival in New Zealand to be granted a Work Permit for a maximum of 12 months; or
  • If applying from within New Zealand, to be granted a Work Permit valid for a maximum of 12 months.

To be eligible for a Work Visa/Permit under this scheme, applicants must:

  • Be citizens of the USA at the time of applying;
  • Have a minimum of NZ$4,200 available funds for their maintenance during the period of stay in New Zealand; and
  • Agree to hold medical and comprehensive hospitalization insurance that will remain current throughout their stay in New Zealand.

Specific Conditions for the United Kingdom:

This scheme allows young citizens of the United Kingdom to be issued with multiple entry Work Visas, current for 12 months from the date of issue. On arrival they will be granted a Work Permit valid for 23 months.

To be eligible for a Work Visa/Permit under this scheme, applicants must:

  • Be British citizens, ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom at the time of applying;
  • Satisfy an NZIS visa or immigration officer that their primary intention is to holiday in New Zealand, with employment being an incidental rather than a primary reason for the visit; and
  • Have a minimum of NZ$350 per month available funds for their maintenance during the period of stay in New Zealand.
  • Applicants from the United Kingdom still need to be ordinarily resident in the UK to apply, but can be temporarily visiting another country at the time of applying.

Participants must not work for a period exceeding 12 months. This may be in one consecutive period or interspersed throughout the total stay.

Great, So How do I Apply?

You can apply online. For most countries, it’s an e-visa so you won’t get a stamp in your passport unless you ask for it.

Here’s the link to the NZ immigration department: http://www.immigration.govt.nz/migrant/stream/work/workingholiday/ or there are plenty of companies like this one: http://www.visabureau.com/newzealand/working-holiday-visa.aspx that offer extra bonuses like discount vouchers and pre-booked hostel accommodation to get you started in the country.

When should I apply?

Visa processing can take up to 8 weeks, and longer if your application isn’t straight forward. The good news, however, is that you then have up to 12 months to enter New Zealand.

Have you done a working holiday in New Zealand? Any tips?

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About Author

England is a very small country, and Clare's got some big ideas and even bigger plans for her twenties (aka the "Decade of Adventures"). So far she's volunteered in a South African township, got her degree, interrailed around Europe, done a triathlon, taken the Trans-Mongolian Express and lived in China... but that's just the start. Right now she's working in a chocolatier, having UK based shenanigans and planning her biggest adventure yet. Mount Everest and Australia had better watch out! Check out her blog at http://blue-dress-and-backpack.blogspot.com