What is a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa?
A New Zealand Working Holiday Visa enables visitors to New Zealand, such as backpackers, to work for up to two years while travelling around New Zealand. From the date that your Working Holiday Visa application is approved you will have 12 months to travel to and enter New Zealand, but then you may leave and return to New Zealand multiple times until your visa expiry date. Although this visa will enable you to work in New Zealand, the main purpose of your visit has to be to holiday.
Who is eligible for a New Zealand Working Holiday visa?
Citizens of the following countries may be eligible: Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czech, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, United Kingdom, USA, Uruguay. If you are not from one of these countries you may get only a visitor visa and you will not be permitted to work.
You have to meet the following general criteria:
- aged 18 to 30 years
- have enough money to support yourself (approx. AUS$4200 cash, travellers cheques, bank draft or bank statement)
- have a return ticket or funds to purchase one
- will not have any dependent children with you
- have never previously been on a working holiday to New Zealand
- have as your main reason for visiting NEW ZEALAND to holiday, with work being secondary
- hold adequate medical insurance for your time in NEW ZEALAND
However, each country has its own rules for getting a Working Holiday Visa, so first you should check the rules for your country’s scheme.
How do I apply?
You must apply under the Working Holiday Scheme of the country for which you hold a passport. If you apply from Argentina, Chile, China, Taiwan or Uruguay under their Working Holiday Schemes you must use the online system. From other countries you may apply online or with a manual application. You should send your manual application form to the NEW ZEALAND Immigration Office in your country.
Online applications can be made from anywhere in the world, except that some schemes require you to be normally resident in your home country when you lodge your application. For online applications you need first to register on the New Zealand Immigration website.
Applying online is faster and more convenient and, if approved, your visa will be issued to you electronically. However, you must keep a printed copy of your electronic work visa with your passport. By applying online you can check whether you will meet the requirements before you lodge and pay for your application. You can also track and view the status of your application online. Applying online saves you a place in the quota.
You can save an application while you are completing it and return to finish it later. You will need your username and password to do this. However, note that some working holiday schemes have a limited number of places and a delay could mean that available places are filled.
What information is required in my application?
You will need to provide details from your passport, answer health questions and state your travel plans. Your country’s scheme might require you to provide other information such as more health information, qualifications and English language ability, but if this is necessary you will receive an email after applying detailing the additional information required and when it must be provided.
You must enter your details accurately in your application, because the name, date of birth, and passport number in your passport must be exactly the same as those on your application. If your name uses non-English letters, you should provide your name in English letters only.
Your scheme may require you to have a Visa or MasterCard credit card to pay online and complete your application. You will find more information on the home page for your country’s scheme. Make sure that you read carefully the requirements for your country’s scheme.
For manual applications, you can get the NZIS form 1085 by requesting an application pack from your local New Zealand Immigration Office or by downloading it from the New Zealand Immigration website.
If you cannot meet deadlines, for example because your x-ray has not been received, you should ask the INZ branch processing your application to give you extra time.
How will I be notified of the outcome of my visa application?
If you apply online you will be advised by e-mail how you can log on to Online Services on INZ’s website to see the outcome of your application and print your electronic visa. You can check the status of your application at Online Services at any time.
What if I need to change details after submitting my application, or I want to withdraw my application?
In these cases you should send an email to Immigration New Zealand (email@example.com) using the same e-mail address as on your application. Include your full name, date of birth, passport number and application or client number. If you withdraw your application fee will not be refunded.
Can I apply again if my application is declined?
If you still meet the requirements of your country’s working holiday scheme, you can apply again with a new username, but your application might still be declined even if your circumstances have changed.
Can I apply again if I was previously approved for a working holiday visa?
You cannot apply again for a working holiday visa if you previously had a work visa approved under a working holiday scheme, even if you did not use the previous work visa.
What other things do I need to know and do?
You may be required to provide evidence that you meet the scheme’s requirements before being allowed into New Zealand, so ensure you carry all relevant documents with you.
You will need to apply for a tax number after you arrive in New Zealand. You just download the Tax Number Application Form (IR595) from the Inland Revenue website (www.ird.govt.nz) and follow the instructions. However, note that you will need to have an address in New Zealand to receive a tax number. You will need photocopies of two supporting documents from the documents listed on the application form. You have to give your tax number to your employer when you start working.
It will be desirable to open a New Zealand bank account if you are staying for a year or more. This will enable you to use an Eftpos card for payment in shops, etc., and most employers will want to pay directly into a New Zealand bank account. You will need identification to open a bank account, which usually would be your passport and evidence of your address in New Zealand.
Do I need to provide a General Medical Certificate and a Chest X-ray Certificate?
This depends on the maximum length of stay permitted under your country’s working holiday scheme (not your intended length of stay), plus your responses to health requirement questions. Read the guide Health Requirements (INZ 1121) PDF. A Chest X-ray Certificate (INZ 1096) will be required if you are a citizen of a country that is not considered as having a low incidence of tuberculosis (TB) or you have lived in such countries for a total of three months in the past five years. If these are required you will be notified by email.
For applicants under the United Kingdom Working Holiday Scheme may apply for 12 or 23 months. If you apply within New Zealand these certificates will be required, but if you apply from outside New Zealand for 12 months, these might not be required unless you have spent time in countries not considered as having low incidence of TB.
For applicant from Malaysia or Singapore applying from outside of New Zealand, you do not have to provide these certificates, but if applying from within New Zealand a Chest X-ray Certificate will be required, and if you have been in New Zealand for more than six months a General Medical Certificate will also be required.
If you need these certificates you must select a practitioner from the approved list of medical doctors and radiologists. However, for countries where there are no approved doctors and radiologists, a registered or board certified or licensed medical practitioner or physician and radiologist may be used.
In New Zealand any registered medical practitioner/radiologist can be used, but you might need a referral from a registered medical practitioner for a chest X-ray.
You will be instructed where to send the completed forms when you submit your application.
Why do I need New Zealand travel insurance?
Travel insurance is a must, not just because getting a Working Holiday Visa requires it, but also because it could be financially disastrous if you do not have it. This is especially because New Zealand offers many adventurous activities, and these can carry higher risk, but accidents can happen in the simplest situations. Be sure that your insurance covers any adventurous activity, such as skiing and extreme sports, that you decide to engage in. Keep receipts and details of your travel insurance with you including who to contact in case of an emergency.
Make sure that your policy covers any individually expensive equipment you plan to take with you. If it doesn’t, you might need to get extra insurance for those items. Make an inventory of items and their values, and retain evidence of your ownership, such as purchase receipts. Check your policy details, such as what level of security you need to maintain, such as keeping items with you or securing them in lockers.
Make photocopies of your important documents, such as passport and travel tickets, and leave a set at home as well as taking a set that is separated from the originals.
READ your policy, and if you don’t understand anything, ask!
What documents will an employer need?
A printed copy of your electronic work visa, which will detail conditions of your employment in New Zealand. If desired, your employer can verify your entitlement to work by using Immigration New Zealand’s online Visa view service.
What will it cost?
The application fee is €175/£125/CA$305 and it is the same as for online and manual applications.
What if I have been charged, convicted or am being investigated for an offence against the law in any country?
In this case you should provide on the “Character” page of the application details of when and where you were charged, the circumstances of the offence and the penalty, if any, imposed by a court.
What if I want to stay longer than my visa allows?
If you applied under the United Kingdom Working Holiday Scheme for a 12-month stay, you can apply to extend up to 23 months total. If you applied under another working holiday scheme, you can only apply for another type of visa as a temporary worker, student, or resident.
However, if you have undertaken three months seasonal work in the horticulture or viticulture industry, and you apply onshore, you may get a further three-month open work visa.
Where else can I get answers?
Contact the Immigration Contact Centre—from outside New Zealand +64 9 914 4100+64 9 914 4100 or from within New Zealand 0508 558 8550508 558 855.