After a few attempts, I finally pushed through and applied for a New Zealand Visa. Since I have a multiple entry visa for Australia, my plan was to utilize it by flying out to New Zealand to visit friends and explore the country, and fly back to Melbourne to get another three month’s stay upon my arrival.
Like Australia, Philippine passport holders can now apply for a New Zealand visa online. However, unlike Australia, they still affix a visa label on your passport, so you would still need to arrange to submit your passport through VFS.
Here’s how I applied for my New Zealand Tourist visa online:
Create a RealMe account
You need this account to access the online application portal of Immigration New Zealand.
Gather and scan required documents
While applying online is the faster way to apply for a visa, it requires some computer know-how. Aside from having access to a scanner, you would also need to convert, merge, and optimize your PDF files to meet the limits set by the website. For example, all tickets must be merge into one PDF file, and not separate files. The entire file must not exceed 2MB in size.
The requirements I submitted are:
- My passport bio page
- Birth certificate
- Passport photo
- Bank statement for the past 3-6 months
- Credit card statements
- Itinerary in New Zealand
- Booking confirmation for my flights into New Zealand, within New Zealand, and flight back to Australia
- My Australian visa grant notice
- Photos with my friend Upper, who is hosting me in Auckland
- Business registration documents
Unlike in Australia where you are not encouraged to buy a ticket before applying for a visa, New Zealand requires you to have a ticket — more importantly, a ticket that you will use to exit New Zealand, or at least prove you have the means to buy an onward ticket.
Fill out the online form and upload your documents
This one you can actually do anytime. The great thing about the online form is that you can save it and come back to finish it anytime. As you go through the form, it will highlight fields you have missed.
At the end of the form, you can start uploading your supporting documents. There are fields provided to guide you what you need to upload, and there is also a field for Others, so you can also upload supporting documents that is not on their list.
Once you finish filling out the form and uploading your documents, you can submit your application. Thanks to a bilateral agreement between the Philippines and New Zealand, here is no fee to apply for a tourist visa.
Submit your passport
After lodging your application, you will be instructed to submit your passport to VFS. You can opt to submit it in person at their office in Makati, or call their hotline to request for a two-way courier pick-up and delivery. Two-way courier fee is Php 600.
Celebrate getting your visa
I lodged my visa application on April 27, and dropped off my passport at the VIA (the previous third-party collecting agency) office on April 28. My visa was granted on May 3, and was delivered to my house on May 4. You would need to receive this in person or at least leave an authorization letter so that others can receive it for you.
Make sure to check the visa conditions. My visa had an “Expiry Date Travel 02 August 2016,” which meant that I have to enter New Zealand before that date. It wouldn’t work for me since I wasn’t flying into the country until September, so I called the embassy and asked what I can do to change the entry date.
The immigration officer I talked to was very nice, and quickly emailed me to send my passport back via VFS so they can reissue the visa label. The previous visa was cancelled, and a new label that expires in November. This took much longer than my initial application. My passport was picked up on May 11, and was returned on May 31.