A gap year in New Zealand is one of the most popular options for backpackers from all countries – and for good reason! Before you are able to get down to bungee jumping, surfing and skydiving in Queenstown, you’ll need sort the issue of visas out. And that’s where we come in. We’ve created this guide to New Zealand visas so you don’t have to worry about the whole process, and you can concentrate on planning the rest of your gap year instead!
Who Needs a Visa?
Whether you need a visa really depends on why you are coming to New Zealand, and what country you are from. Those simply visiting New Zealand will have to ascertain whether their country is part of the visa exemption scheme (many countries are, including the UK, Australia and USA). If this is the case, you can gain entry to New Zealand without a visa, providing you can pass the necessary checks at the border. Those from countries that aren’t part of this scheme will need a visa, even if they are only visiting for tourism purposes.
If you want to temporarily work in New Zealand however, you will need a visa, and the normal visa most people apply for is the working holiday visa. There are various schemes for different countries but, aside from the UK, they have quotas that can be reached reasonably quickly. Australian residents will be granted a resident visa upon arrival to New Zealand, which will allow them to both stay indefinitely and work for an unlimited time period.
Types of Visas
There are two types of New Zealand visas that you might come across if you are planning on spending a gap year in New Zealand. Both are explained below:
- Visitor Visa
As already explained, many travellers coming to New Zealand will not need to get a visitor visa if they are from an approved country. If this is the case, they will be granted a visa at the border, providing they can prove that they have the means to support themselves and that they have proof of onward travel. Once approved, you’ll be able to stay for up to 3 month (6 months if you’re from the UK). If you want to stay for longer, or are not from a designated country, you will need to apply for a visitor visa – more details can be found here.
- Working Holiday Visa
A working holiday visa does exactly what it implies – it allows you to work while spending your time in New Zealand! Unlike the visitor visa, it is generally necessary to apply for this visa before arriving in the country (Australian citizens do not need this visa). It will allow you to work in New Zealand for up to 12 months (23 months for UK citizens), and you’ll be allowed to work for each employer for up to 3 months. It is only available for those aged 18-30. Unlike some countries, a job offer before arriving in the country is not needed. For more information on the working holiday visa, click here.
How to Apply
Firstly, as we’ve already stated, many won’t need a visitor visa. If you do though, the process can be a slightly lengthy one, so leave plenty of time. Firstly, you will need to complete the Visitor Visa Application form. For those staying in New Zealand for longer periods, some medical documents might also be required. Once you’ve filled out the application form and provided the correct documents, you must send everything, including the correct fee, to the relevant branch. Find out where you need to send this application here. You then simply have to wait for the decision.
For working holiday visas, the process is much simpler, as the whole thing must be completed online. You will first need to register with Immigration New Zealand, before then completing all of the relevant sections. Then just press send, and you’ll receive a decision within 5 working days! If only every visa application process was this simple…
Visa Refused/Cancelled: What Next?
If you are denied a visa or have had your visa cancelled, you are allowed to appeal under the Immigration Act 2009. More information can be found here. Unfortunately, the vast number of refusals/cancellations are made correctly, therefore the chances of getting a decision overturned are slim.