Did you know that there is a New Zealand working holiday visa for anyone over 30 years old? Until earlier this year, I didn’t know that either.
I’ve been searching for an opportunity to live abroad ever since I realized that travel is a healing process for me. My desire to immerse myself in a foreign culture runs deep. So, I began digging into the available options.
I don’t run my own online business and this blog is far from being a source of income for me. I’m not a graphic or web designer or a professional photographer. So, location independence is pretty much ruled out as a means to make money while I travel. After reading hundreds of blogs and watched hours of Youtube videos by people teaching in Spain, South Korea, Thailand, and Taiwan, I’m not 100% convinced that teaching is “my thing.” So, I have failed to make any real progress beyond research.
Finally, at 33 years old, I accepted the fact that I had aged out of any working holiday visa program. Working holidays allow travelers up to a year to live and work in another country, but typically only if you’re in your 20’s.
Then I finally caught wind of BUNAC, a company that coordinates gap year opportunities to intern, work, and volunteer in select countries all over the globe. It’s London based, but there is a partner office in the Arizona. Programs they offer are for citizens of the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Among the list of opportunities, people can coach sports in South Africa, volunteer in Nepal, and be a summer camp counselor in the U.S.
Exclusive to BUNAC is the IEP Work Exchange Visa, which is open to first-time U.S. working holiday travelers 30-35 years old. Additionally, anyone 18-35 who has already spent time in New Zealand using the standard working holiday visa can return for another year with this visa.
New Zealand Working Holiday Visa
Here’s a list of what you need BEFORE you can apply for this visa.
- You must be a US citizen and apply for the program while physically in the U.S.
- Your passport must be valid for six months after your planned departure from N.Z.
- Must be between 30-35 (inclusive) years old. Inclusive means you may turn 36 while living/working in N.Z.
- Payment to BUNAC for the Work New Zealand Essentials Program ($629)
- Proof of $4200 NZD (about $3000 USD) in an accessible bank account. Plus $1100 USD if only purchasing a one-way flight to NZ – $4100 USD total
- Flight itinerary and proof of confirmed flight to Auckland
- Comprehensive international insurance covering your entire length of stay in NZ
If you have already spent 12 or more months in New Zealand using the standard Working Holiday Visa:
- Medical exam and/or chest x-ray (NZ is very strict about TB)
- FBI background check
Benefits of the IEP Work Exchange Visa Program
Paying a $629 fee for a visa may seem like a lot, but here’s a list of what’s included in that fee.
- Excellent support before and during the visa application process
- In-country support once you arrive New Zealand, including assistance with taxes, banking, job and accommodation search support
- Access to affordable flights through STA and international insurance (if you have no experience buying/researching your own)
- First two nights accommodation at a hostel in Auckland
- Comprehensive welcome orientation
- Voucher for transportation to the hostel from the airport
- Work New Zealand handbook and orientation
- Plus a Lonely Planet New Zealand guidebook, luggage storage, free internet at resource centers across the country, NZ$5 phone card, and mail forwarding service
Thinking about living and working in New Zealand? Let me know in the comments below.
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