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Obtaining a Working Holiday Visa for New Zealand

If you are a U.S. citizen, obtaining a temporary work visa for New Zealand is quick and simple. Even though I had studied abroad in England in 2013, living full-time in a different country was a dream I was determined to achieve. So, when the director of the Higher Education Administration program at Kent State agreed that working and living abroad would help my chances of being accepted into Kent State’s program, I quickly began planning my trip. I spoke with the director in late January of 2016, and within a month I had submitted my application, been accepted, and had bought my plane ticket to New Zealand.

The best part about applying for New Zealand’s working holiday visa is that you can access the application online. When I applied for my visa, the website was difficult to navigate. However, when I visited the immigration website in September of 2016, it had been completely redesigned. It is a lot easier to find your way around the site now. Even if you still find the website frustrating, just remember that it is a luxury to muddle through the visa application process in the comfort of your own home! Citizens of some other countries have to seek out a New Zealand embassy or consulate to apply for a similar visa.

The working holiday visa application itself is straightforward and easy to understand. It is a surprisingly quick process, and you receive an answer incredibly quickly. For example, I applied on a Saturday and was approved by the following Wednesday. I could hardly believe how fast it all happened. Additionally, if you apply for the work visa online and outside of New Zealand, your application fee is waived – making it FREE to apply!

Below is a list of the main criteria needed to obtain a working holiday visa for New Zealand.

Name of Visa: United States Working Holiday Scheme.
This visa is more commonly known as a working holiday visa.

Age Restriction: 18-30 years of age.

Funds Required: $2,879 USD ($4,200 NZ).
I was never asked to provide evidence of the sufficient funds required, but it is a good idea to carry proof that you have access to this amount of money.


Length of Stay: 12 months, or possible 15 months.

U.S. citizens have one of the shorter working holiday visas. Although, if you are willing to work in New Zealand’s agricultural sector for three months, your visa will be extended to fifteen months.

Return Ticket Necessary: Yes, or sufficient funds to purchase a return ticket.
Once again, I was never asked to provide this information. However, it is always a good idea to be prepared, especially for when you arrive in New Zealand and go through immigration.

Application Fee: $165 USD.
The application was actually FREE for me because I was applying online and from outside of New Zealand.

Other Information: Be prepared to set up a bank account, a New Zealand phone number, and an IRD number for taxes. These three things will be essential when applying for jobs  in New Zealand.

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