Try Before You Buy
A New Zealand Working Holiday year could open doors for permanent migration, writes Johanna Steiner.
More young people than ever are packing their backpacks to travel Down Under for a year of Working Holiday. New Zealand’s Working Holiday Visa Scheme allows young nationals of certain countries to work in New Zealand on a temporary basis for up to 12 months in order to supplement their travels.
There are unlimited places available annually under this scheme to young citizens of the UK. While employment is limited to 12 months, the British scheme exclusively offers a stay of up to 23 months. As a Working Holiday Visa holder, you may work for any employer in New Zealand on a fixed term basis and there is no restriction on how long you can work for one employer. While the name suggests you have to both travel and work, there is no obligation to do both. You can work for the full 12 months or you can exclusively travel if your funds allow it.
The affordability and the ease of applying for it makes this visa so popular, the application is entirely online and processing often only takes a couple of days if all requirements are met. To apply, you must be at least 18 and not older than 30 years old and permanently living in the UK. You must ensure your passport is valid for at least three months after your planned departure from New Zealand and if you don’t hold a return ticket, have enough funds available to purchase one. As for all visas you must meet health and character requirements and are responsible for your own healthcare during your stay.
As a steady income is not guaranteed or required for this visa, you can’t bring any dependent children with you. If you are travelling with your spouse or partner, each person will have to apply for their own visa individually. It is also worth bearing in mind that this is a once-in-a-lifetime visa, so, if you have been granted one in the past, you will not be granted another.
So how does this work visa open doors for permanent migration? Under current immigration policy, most skilled migrants are reliant on a job offer in order to be eligible to apply for a resident visa. Some migrants with occupations in shortage areas in New Zealand may find that they are perceived favourably by employers while others find it impossible to get an interview without a visa already in place and from all those miles away in the UK. That’s where the Working Holiday Visa comes in. Due to not needing an offer of employment to apply, it gives the holder the advantage to be able to travel to New Zealand and apply for jobs with a valid work visa already in place which often makes them more appealing to employers.
Even if initial roles are often of short duration or seasonal work, this gives young people with long term ambitious that all important New Zealand work experience on their CV. Experience gained during a work and travel year shows a willingness to step into other cultures and exchange skills and knowledge. In some fields or industries, it can be the crucial difference between two applicants if one has previous experience of the New Zealand labour market.
For those travellers who have left a lasting impression on their Kiwi employers, they may leave with an offer to return back there in the future or at the very least with a referee for future employment searches Down Under. If you are offered a permanent role while on your Working Holiday Visa, you can apply for a subsequent visa without returning to your home country, provided you stay on a valid visa at all times. In the past 12 months I have assisted many young people from the UK with obtaining their Working Holiday Visas, many of which have received offers of long term employment and have subsequently applied for further work visas or even residence. A taste of the Kiwi lifestyle is also the perfect way to affirm the decision that New Zealand is the perfect place to live and work.
THE CHOICE IS YOURS
Admittedly, not all Working Holiday makers stay in New Zealand forever. Some go on to travel other countries and some return home after a year. It is in no way a failed undertaking if you decide New Zealand is not the place for you to stay when your visa comes to an end. As an inexpensive visa option, the Working Holiday Visa is a great way to explore the country and labour market without making a big commitment straight away. It doesn’t require a big financial investment or shipping your entire household to New Zealand and as such is the perfect way to ‘try before you buy’. From my personal experience as an Immigration Adviser and former traveller myself, I can say with certainty that migrants who have previously experienced New Zealand life are much more likely to settle well in the long term. So, if you meet the above criteria and you are thinking of migrating to New Zealand, now or at a later point, I definitely recommend starting the journey with a Working Holiday Visa.