New Zealand Visas

The first step with any adventure (after dreaming it up of course) is to work out if you can enter the country and how long you’re allowed to stay. The Immigration New Zealand website is the fount of all knowledge on this topic and should be your primary resource when making your arrangements – not the unreliable blog posts of random locum physios…

Can you complete the following sentence?

I am not currently in New Zealand but I want to…




Move permanently?

If you can answer this, you can navigate the Immigration New Zealand website, a very intuitive page that walks you through all the options you have and all the information you’ll need to know prior to jumping on the plane.

A selection of drop-down menus allow you to enter the details of your specific circumstances – country of residence, age etc. – and the website will sift through the literally hundreds of visas available, popping up only the relevant ones on your screen. Super clever.

Because there are actually 101 listed New Zealand work visas, it’s not practical for me to go through the application processes for every one. Plus as an Aussie I get to travel here with nothing but my passport (thanks Jacinda Ardern!).

But regardless of my own paperwork-free border crossing, let me brief you on visa fees and timeframes and things so you’re kinda prepared.

** Just a note here, as I write in 2021 processing for most visa applications is on hold due to the pandemic so keep this information handy until international borders open again.


How long does it take?

Processing times will vary depending on the visa you apply for, but according to the latest stats on the Immigration website 90% of essential skills work visas are processed in 67 days.

I’d therefore recommend you get your application in 2-3 months before you intend to arrive.

Currently working holiday visas from Canada are listed as taking 10 months (although this may be a COVID related issue). I’d honestly recommend just jumping on the Immigration website for the latest updates as things are bound to change a lot in the coming year.


How much does it cost?

Costs will of course vary depending on the type of visa you apply for.

An Essential Skills Work Visa for example is $0 if you’re from the USA, or $495 plus a receiving centre fee if you apply from India.

You’ll need to pop your specific details in the drop-down menu for the information relevant to you.

Also be aware of the specific criteria for your visa that will require you to save a little extra. For example Norwegian Working Holiday Visas require you to have $4200 in your bank account. The UK Working Holiday Visa requires you to have at least $350 per month of your intended length of stay. You can see why it’s important to check your own visa conditions!


How long can I stay?

Most country-specific working holiday visas look like you can stay for 12-24 months, with the ability to re-apply again at the end of that time if you’re loving life here.

Essential skills work visas are for up to 3 years depending on your pay level.

Long term skills shortage visas (which include physiotherapists) allow you to stay up to 30 months.

Some of these visas will have a pathway to indefinite leave to remain and New Zealand residency, so if you intend to settle in New Zealand more permanently make sure you check out that side of the website too.


How do I apply?

It looks like there are both online and paper-based applications available that are visa and country-specific.

Make sure you know all the necessary supporting documents you’ll need and get organised to have them together in time – police checks, bank statements, medical examinations…


Bureaucratic processes like this have become the bane of my existence over the many years I’ve spent working and travelling around the world, but for every seemingly wasted moment of my life spent filling out paperwork I’ve been absolutely repaid at least a hundred times over in the amazing experiences I’ve been lucky enough to have in these countries. And trust me, New Zealand will be no different for you!


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