New Zealand Visa Requirements for US citizens…
What the hell did I get myself into?? I mean, I bought a one-way plane ticket… ONE WAY. It wasn’t like I could drive home if things get tough, or call my dad to bail me out of some crap situation. Therefore, thinking things through seemed like a good idea. I have never done something like this before, so honestly, I had no fricken clue where to begin. Like all millennials, when in doubt, “google it”.
For those of you, who may be in my shoes, never fear, I will condense the many hours of said googling into one small and hopefully somewhat funny article!
If you are heading to the Kiwi Nation, the first thing to decide would be the length of your stay as this will decide whether a VISA is required or not. A couple of weeks? No problem, no VISA necessary. In fact, American’s can travel to New Zealand for up to 3 months without a VISA. For those of you that want to either travel longer than 3 months or also work during this time, a Working Holiday Visa (WHV) is probably the easiest way to go about it.
What is a working holiday VISA, one might ask…
With a WHV, you can live and travel in New Zealand for up to 12 months. Those lucky young bastards between the ages of 18 and 35, can get this sucker. A bonus is you have unlimited entry into New Zealand! Therefore, for those of you, like me, who plan to explore the surrounding countries as well, this VISA gives us that ability. As far as work goes, the WHV allows you to obtain any employment as long as it is legal (that means no prostitution) and not permanent (can’t last the whole year).
If you want to know more about the WHV or other options, straight from the horse’s mouth, go to the New Zealand Immigration site. This is also the site that you can apply for your VISA through (I added a quick link below, so keep reading dudes).
Okay, okay, where are the catches??
You probably want to understand what you are getting yourself into. The fine print, if you will, is as follows:
- If a return ticket is not purchased, the VISA carrier must have enough funds to be able to purchase a return ticket in addition to the living costs noted in #2.
- You must have at least $4,200 NZD (approx. $3,038 USD) to live on while there.
- Medical insurance must be obtained for the duration of the trip. For this, I suggest Orbit Protect, which will be discussed further in a later post.
And that’s it, folks!
It’ll be easy they say.. until it isn’t…
Now, applying for this visa was fairly easy. A few personal questions, here, promising your first-born child, there…. and voilà, 15 minutes later, you will be dreaming of skydiving in Queenstown or exploring Hobbiton while you wait for it to be approved! (Apply Online Here!)
And here’s where things get interesting… There was one piece of the VISA application I did not know much about, and it caused quite a pickle for me.
For those of you out there that have done their fair share of traveling, the WHV application requires anyone who has spent 3 or more months in a TB risk country to obtain a chest x-ray. Did you know that there are basically only around 50 out of 196 countries that are low TB risk? Aka, the ones that do not require a chest x-ray. Well, I did not prior to my application. Do not make my mistake, and read here for the full listing.
A big thanks to studying abroad in Spain to making me have this extra step… JK, Spain was amazing, no regrets!
I did actually see this while I was filling out the application. I was like “damn, that sucks, oh well, how hard can it be??” If only I knew.. What was not mentioned was after the application has been submitted, you have 15 days to get the chest x-ray, I repeat, 15 DAYS!!!!
Why is this such an issue, one might ask…
For those of you unfamiliar with the life of an accountant. From mid-January to the end of March (April 15 for tax… or as I like to call it, the dark side), we basically have no life. Well, that isn’t true. My life consisted of eating, on occasion, working, 70+ hours a week, and sleeping, I think….. for 3 months…
Here I was, in the throes of busy season. I thought, “what can I do to help alleviate the fact that I hate my job and life right now??? Ohh I know, get my visa so I can quit this bitch!!” I applied for the VISA. Well… little did I know the whole 15-day rule or my visa application would be denied. I wasn’t about to let that happen. But there I was with literally only Sunday’s (sometimes) to spare and another couple of 70 hour weeks ahead of me. To make matters worse, there is a specifically approved panel of physicians that the NZ government will accept.
After a small but rather traumatizing panic attack, I called all the approved places in the vicinity to take care of the pesky chest x-ray. To make a long story short, I left a lot of (desperate) messages, had a few breakdowns, but finally found one that would take care of everything! $120 later, I was x-rayed, TB clear, with 5 days to spare. Take that immigration!
A couple of weeks later, mission accomplished = visa approved, I would legally be jetting off to NZ in September!
A few do’s and don’ts with this visa thing…
- Do: Use the NZ immigration website when considering the various VISAs to help select which is best for your Kiwi journey. There’s nothing more legit than the government’s word on the matter.
- Do: Review the list of low TB risk countries in consideration of prior travels.
- Do: Consider the timing of the application. It did not take long to get approved once I fulfilled the chest x-ray requirement. Therefore, make sure if an x-ray is required, you have a bit of time flexibility to schedule an appointment.
- Don’t: Apply during an accountant’s busy season… I’m a fricken idiot… This caused way more stress than it should have, but alas, I have the VISA. Thus, all is as it should be.
- Don’t: Try to go to a physician other than that on the panel. Other doctors will require a referral, and it is more trouble than it is worth. Trust me, I tried. The ones on the approved panel are very familiar with the NZ visa requirements and will take care of everything.
With that being said, this is where I leave you… Feel free to reach out with any other questions about this process. Good luck, Godspeed, and go get your visa!