In 2015, the coming of the New Year was very significant to me as that meant that it was only a month away from the Philippines Working Holiday Scheme in New Zealand application day. I learned about the visa a year before and I was not able to secure a slot so I promised myself that in the next year, I would be more ready. The working holiday visa has been my entry pathway to New Zealand from the Philippines and it may be yours as well. I want to share with you what I know about this visa and help you prepare for you upcoming visa application.
What is this visa?
In my own words, a working holiday visa is a visit visa with work rights for 18-30-year-old young people. Although the visa label still says ‘work visa’, this visa supposedly is to be used to travel around New Zealand and to immerse yourself with the country’s culture. You have the flexibility to work a maximum of three months per one employer or to study short courses up to six months. However the visa restrictions has not stopped young people to use this visa in order to legally enter New Zealand with the hope of landing a permanent job. It is not allowed to take on a permanent job offer while on the working holiday visa so you must first convert your working holiday visa to a visa that would allow you to work permanently for a New Zealand employer. This visa usually is available to citizens of more developed countries and you would wonder how the Philippines had negotiated something like this!
Note: The application date for 2019 is the 7th of February at 10 AM New Zealand daylight time.
In 2012, the previous Philippine President had arrived in New Zealand for a state visit. He met with the previous New Zealand Prime Minister and they signed bilateral agreements to strengthen diplomatic relations between the Philippines and New Zealand. One of these agreements was the negotiation and arrangement of a reciprocal working holiday scheme between the two countries to foster cultural awareness. There will be 100 slots available for each country. Kiwis getting to know Pinoys and vice versa. Neat, right?
To qualify for this visa, you must:
• be coming to New Zealand to holiday, with work or study being secondary intentions for your visit
• have a passport from the Republic of the Philippines that is valid for at least three months after your planned departure from New Zealand
• be at least 18 and not more than 30 years old
• not bring children with you
• hold a return ticket, or sufficient funds to purchase such a ticket
• have a minimum of NZ$4,200 available funds for their maintenance during the period of stay in New Zealand
• meet our health and character requirements
• submit an application made online using the electronic form provided on the INZ website
• pay the appropriate fee and immigration levy of NZ$208
• be the holder of a valid temporary visa if applying from within New Zealand
• agree to hold medical and comprehensive hospitalisation insurance to remain in force throughout their stay in New Zealand
• have a tertiary qualification granted in respect of a minimum of three years’ full-time university study
• have a level of proficiency in English that is assessed as at least functional
• not have been approved a visa under a working holiday scheme before
How do I apply?
The application opens on a specific date and time, usually announced beforehand. The application is made online so you would not find any paper forms in Immigration New Zealand (INZ) offices or PDF forms on the internet. You would have to create an account with INZ Online Services before application day. The form will be accessible on the application day itself. Any forms you may have saved before will be deleted before the application opens.
There are only 100 slots for Philippine citizens so this visa application is very competitive.
You do not need to upload any documents as if you are granted a slot, you will be asked to send supporting documents to your application to the visa application centre nearest you. Once you have finished answering the form truthfully, the system will ask you to pay NZD 245 (amount increased from NZD 208 to NZD 245 in November 2018) using your credit, debit, or prepaid card (any card with sufficient balance, and with a Visa or a MasterCard logo will do). A successful payment confirmation secures you a slot in the Working Holiday Scheme. You will receive emails containing instructions on what to do next, which is submitting supporting documents. You will be given fifteen calendar days to submit the documents.
What should the confirmation email/s contain?
The emails were sent minutes after I was able to pay for the application. Check all your email folders as in my experience, the emails from INZ were sent to the spam emails. The first email I got was the usual acknowledgement email and this contained the client number assigned to me. This number does not change even in subsequent visa applications. The second email contained the supporting documents to submit in the application and the third email contained instructions where to submit the application and where to go for the medical examination. I will not share what the third email contains because it is now outdated and instead I will provide most recent information.
The required documentation are the following:
• Your valid passport.
• Evidence, such as bank statements or passbook, that you have a minimum of NZ $4,200 available in your name.
• A Chest X-ray Certificate which is not more than three months old. Follow the instructions in the separate email which has been sent to you regarding this certificate. Check the list of panel physicians for an INZ approved radiologist to complete this certificate. Some approved radiologists may be able to send your certificate directly to INZ. Refer to the Health Requirements (INZ 1121) for more information on this.
PLEASE NOTE: You may need a referral from a doctor for a chest X-ray certificate.
• A certified copy of a tertiary qualification which has taken you a minimum of three years’ full-time university study. Ensure that you provide evidence that shows you have completed a minimum of three years’ full-time university study. Please also include a Letter of Authorisation allowing INZ to verify all documents submitted in support of your application.
• Evidence that your tertiary qualification was gained from an institution where all tuition was in English. If you do not provide this, you are requried to provide a certified copy of a certificate from the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), showing you achieved an average level of 4.5 over the four components of the test. The IELTS certificate must be no more than two years old at the time the application is lodged. (Please see table below for other acceptable English tests.)
• You must also agree that, should your application be approved, you will take out medical and comprehensive hospitalisation insurance that will remain current throughout your stay in New Zealand.
I am anticipating that the emails to be sent out this year (2019) and the succeeding years will be similar but I cannot guarantee that this will be entirely correct. Although I can confidently add that the following English tests are now acceptable in lieu of a certificate of English as medium of instruction (which proves you have at least functional English) from your school or an IELTS report mentioned above. I got this from the INZ Operational Manual.
Minimum score required
|International English Language Testing System (IELTS) – General or Academic Module||Overall band score of 4.5 or more|
|Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet-based Test (TOEFL iBT)||Overall score of 32 or more|
|Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic)||Overall score of 30 or more|
|Cambridge English: First (FCE)
Cambridge English: First (FCE) for Schools
|Overall score 147 or more|
|Occupational English Test (OET)||Grade C or higher in all four skills (Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking)*
* A score of Grade C or higher in all four skills is required for the OET as there is no overall grade for this test.
What documents should I submit?
The documentation you should submit would vary greatly depending on your circumstances. If you are a married female and has changed your name, you would also need to submit a marriage certificate. Exercise your best judgement. In my experience here are the documents I submitted:
• Original Passport – This can prove your identity and age.
• PSA Certificate of Live Birth (Birth Certificate) – Secondary document to prove you identity and age
• eMedical Information Sheet – This is to prove you are of good health. The clinics in the Philippines have shifted to the eMedical system wherein the clinics will directly submit your medical tests to the immigration. You will be given this sheet to submit alongside your other documents so that the immigration can easily reference your medical report. It should have the format NZERxxxxxx. If you are applying outside New Zealand, the minimum requirement is to only undergo a chest x-ray. If you are applying in New Zealand, the requirement is to undergo a full medical examination and a chest x-ray. The general ruling is chest X-rays are required for visas with 12 months of stay. If staying for more than 12 months, then an additional full medical examination is required. To those outside New Zealand when applying, I highly urge you to undergo the full medical examination anyway. It may have been for naught if you do not get to stay in New Zealand after a year but it will be very handy if ever you do find permanent work here. It would suck if a year later you would find out you have medical issues and would need additional testing. Going to the doctor as a temporary visa holder would be very costly. Unfortunately, medical tests would not be covered by a medical insurance since the tests needed would be used for immigration purposes. The medical report would be valid for three years unless your health has deteriorated. You can find more information here.
• Certificate of English as a Medium of Instruction – This should satisfy the requirement of evidence that your tertiary qualification was gained from an institution where all tuition was in English. This would prove an applicant would have at least functional English. The document is easily available from your school but if not then other forms of English language ability can be submitted (mentioned above).
• Bank certificate – This should have a minimum of NZD 4,200 equivalent of your local currency. This would be around PHP 150,000 (at NZD 1 = PHP 35) if your bank is in the Philippines. Please add more to accomodate the purchase of an onward ticket in the future. I personally submitted a bank certificate amounting to around PHP 200,000.
• Bank statement – I showed a year’s worth of history so they would not question the source of my funds and to show I had held the amount for a while.
• Credit card statements – This must have enough balance. Do not show your credit card statements if most of your balance has been used for instalment purchases.
• Certified copy of diploma – There is no way in hell I would submit my original diploma unless explicity requested.
• Official English translation of diploma – My diploma is in Filipino so I requested an official English translation from the school. If your school does not provide an official translation, then please seek the help of translation services like Orange.
• Certificate of Graduation – This is to further prove you have a tertiary degree. I believe this is only available from my university. Check with your university if they release a document like this, otherwise ignore this requirement.
• Transcript of Records – Again this is to further prove you have a tertiary degree and to show you have a qualification with at least three years.
• Cover Letter – This is not required but there may be some circumstances you need to explain (e.g. not submitting the original passport because I have an upcoming trip). I submitted a covering letter containing a list of the documents I had submitted.
• Authorisation Letter – INZ would verify the documents you will provide and your school and your bank may need this to release information about you. There is no format for this. If you could not write a simple authorisation letter, please reconsider applying for this visa. 🙂
• Letter of Undertaking – In my experience, I did not need to provide proof of having bought medical insurance upon application BUT I promised INZ through a letter that I would buy insurance valid throughout my stay if the visa is approved.
Where can I have the medical examination?
You cannot just go to your family friend slash doctor to get a medical examination. INZ has an approved list of panel physicians. The Philippines has five (5) locations where individuals can have their medical examination.
Type: Medical and Radiology
Doctor/Clinic: Nationwide Health Systems Baguio Inc
City or County: Baguio City
Address: Room 1, EDY Building, 144 Kisad Road (near BGH rotonda), Baguio City, Benguet 2600
Phone: +63 74 661 5801
Fax: +63 74 442 6811
eMedical enabled: Yes
Doctor/Clinic: Nationwide Health Systems Cebu, Inc.
City or County: Cebu City
Address: G/F Gillamac’s Building 169 Sanciangko, Cebu City 6000
Phone: +63 32 238 6053; +63 32 414 1983, +63 933 328 9914
Fax: +63 32 238 6053, +63 32 414 1983
Mobile: +63 933 328 9914
Email: email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
eMedical enabled: Yes
Type: Medical and Radiology
Doctor/Clinic: Nationwide Health Systems Davao
City or County: Davao City
Address: Suite 4, Pelicano Building Ecoland Phase 1 36 Quimpo Boulevard 8000 Davao City
Phone: + 63 82 282 2419
Hours: Monday to Saturday 8 am to 5 pm
eMedical enabled: Yes
Type: Medical and Radiology
Doctor/Clinic: St Luke’s Medical Center Extension Clinic – Global City
City or County: Manila
Address: Room 1002 Medical Arts Building, St. Luke’s Medical Center – Global City Bonifacio Global City Taguig
Phone: +63 2 789-7702, +63 2 789-7703, +63 2 789-7705
Fax: +63 2 521 7753, +63 2 526 0208
Hours: Monday to Friday 7 am to 3.30 pm
eMedical enabled: Yes
Type: Medical and Radiology
Doctor/Clinic: Nationwide Health Systems AUX Inc
City or County: Metro Manila
Address: 2nd Floor Annex, Zeta Building 191 Salcedo Street, Legaspi Village, Makati City 1299
Phone: +63 2 810 0785, +63 2 759 5022
Fax: 63 32 238 6053
Email: email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
eMedical enabled: Yes
Please contact the clinics directly for costs. Please find the list of panel physicians can be found here especially if you do not live in the Philippines.
What examinations will be performed in the medical?
As the Philippines is not listed in the countries, areas, and territories with low incidence of tuberculosis and the visa being applied for is for one year, INZ rules state that a chest x-ray must be submitted. This is just to ensure we, Filipinos, do not bring tuberculosis to New Zealand.
As I mentioned above, the full medical examination is not required for this visa as the full medical is only required for those staying for more than one year. I urge you to submit a full medical anyway if you intend to stay in New Zealand. Just think of it as part of your strategy. Go big or go nothing, right?
The tests being performed in the full medical are the following:
– Serum Creatinine
– HIV test
– Hepatitis B test
– Hepatitis C test
– Full Blood Count
– General Medical Examination – No taking off clothes necessary, just questions regarding your general health and wellbeing.
Where do I submit the documents?
If applying from the Philippines and other countries except New Zealand:
The embassy does not accept documents directly so we would have to deal with visa application centres or VACs. The email you received after payment should instruct where you should submit your application. The Philippines’ VAC for New Zealand is VFS. They have two (2) branches in the country.
Please note that if you are currently overseas, you are not able to send your documents to your nearest VAC. You must send your documents to VFS Manila or VFS Cebu. However concessions can be made to do the visa stamping in the nearest VAC especially if your passport is physically with you overseas (you didn’t submit the original passport when you submitted your documents) once the application has been decided.
2305 Chino Roces Avenue Extension
Metro Manila 1231
9th Floor Keppel Centre
Samar Loop cnr. Cardinal Rosales Avenue
Cebu Business Park
Cebu City 6000
Note: In 2018 physical submission of documents was not required and INZ Bangkok handled the application process. If anything shall change this year, just wait for your Case Officer’s instructions.
If applying from New Zealand:
Please do not just drop your application in any branch. You have to send the documents through the New Zealand Post or other couriers you prefer.
Immigration New Zealand
280 Queen Street
In summary, how much would I spend in applying for this visa?
Visa application fee – NZD 245 or PHP 8,575
Medical examination and chest X-ray – Around PHP 10,500
IELTS – Around PHP 10,000
Documentation – Depends on your school, bank, etc. Estimate at around PHP 1,000
* Lodgement fee – Around 300 (if picked up by VFS) (may not be applicable anymore if the application process has become fully digital)
Show money – NZD 4,200 or PHP 150,000
Onward ticket amount – NZD 1,000 or PHP 35,000 or less
Medical insurance – NZD 285 – 398 or PHP 9,975 – 13,930 (depends on which insurance company)
Total – Around PHP 40,000+ not including the show money and onward ticket amount (since you are not spending this yet); could be less if no IELTS and no full medical
What do I do before submitting my documents?
Make sure that your documents are complete and are genuine. New Zealand takes lying very seriously and if you lied in your application, it may cost you your slot.
What do I do after submitting my documents?
Wait for the decision. Pray. Whatever works to ease your mind off the application. The decision is now on the hands of your case officer. The processing times varies depending on your visa application centre. The system sends an email every time there is a change on your application (such as receiving the medical examination, or getting the decision) so check your inbox from time to time. You may also be contacted by your case officer if needed.
What are the conditions of the visa?
- You must come to New Zealand within 12 months of the date your visa is granted.
- After you arrive in New Zealand, you can come and go from New Zealand as many times as you like before your visa expires. (This is when the one year validity of the visa starts.)
- You must apply for entry permission when you arrive in New Zealand. You can do this by completing an arrival card, which you’ll be given on the way to New Zealand.
- You must have at least NZ $4,200 to live on while you’re in New Zealand.
- You must have either a travel ticket out of New Zealand or enough money to pay for a travel ticket out of New Zealand, in addition to your living costs.
- You must maintain your medical insurance while in New Zealand.
- You can work in any employment you like, as long as:
- you don’t work for more than 3 months for any one employer
- you don’t work for more than 12 months in total
- you don’t get a permanent job
- the work you do is legal
- you don’t provide commercial sexual services
- you don’t run or invest in a business that provides commercial sexual services.
- You can do some study or training, as long as it’s not for more than 6 months of your stay.
- You must leave New Zealand before your visa expires.
Do you have tips on how to secure a slot?
No, not specifically for this visa. Please do check this link to know my tips about how to secure a Silver Fern application slot as the tips will be fairly similar for the working holiday scheme.
I also have written an application guide here and have collated frequently asked questions here. Please read these posts first and the comments sections of those blogs to avoid repetitive questions. It will be so much easier for you if you read everything first.
So I guess that is it. If you have questions that haven’t been asked and answered, just leave a comment below and I will try to answer your query. Please note though that I am not a licensed immigration adviser so do not consider this as professional advice.