Who doesn’t want to go to New Zealand, right? With its other-worldly landscapes, the Maori culture that we basically only came to know through the Haka dance performed before rugby matches, that Anne Curtis wedding and of course the Lord of the Rings – Hobbit movies. I have been wanting to go since 2014 but thought of the idea as foolish and impossible; but hey! In a few weeks, we will set foot there, so thank you, God for all the provisions.
This guide is for those who want to apply online. The requirements are the same for those applying in person, the method of bringing your passport and requirements is different. Plus, if you apply online, expect the visa to be printed on a piece of paper instead of as a sticker on your passport.
New Zealand is a lot smaller than Australia, but is always wrongly termed as Australia’s closest neighbor, because Papua New Guinea is. Anyway, if you’re planning to go to New Zealand, as a Philippine passport holder, you are required to first secure a visitor visa. Here are the steps:
STEP 1: GO TO THE WEBSITE
It’s easier to apply for the visa online especially if you hardly have the time to personally appear at the VAC locations, or if you’re too far. Please note that we applied for the visa individually whereas we had an option for a group application since we’re traveling together.
Alternatively, you can also go to the VAC (Visa Application Centre) locations in Manila and Cebu. We chose to easily apply from the comforts of our home via the online visa.
Once you’re in the website, scroll to the bottom of the page and select Apply for a visa
STEP 2: SELECT THE TYPE OF VISA YOU NEED
From the website, you will see drop-downs to make your selections from. For us, we selected, VISIT>HOLIDAY>VISITOR VISA. Once done, click View Visa Details and Apply button.
You can read the criteria first for more information or you can click apply now button to get routed to creating your online account. This is the same experience when we applied for our US, Australia and Canada visas.
Once you click the login or create account blue button, a new page will open for you to either login or setup your account. In this example, we already have an account so we will log in instead.
STEP 3: CREATE AN ACCOUNT WITH REAL ME
Make sure to enter the correct email and phone numbers as they will contact you through these communication channels when needed. You will have to agree to the Terms of Privacy after completing the signup.
STEP 4: VERIFY YOUR REAL ME ACCOUNT ON YOUR EMAIL
Unlike the Canada process, I didn’t have to confirm my account by logging on to my email. Here, it’s the opposite. Once verified, then you can continue with your application process.
STEP 5: SELECT THE TYPE OF VISA APPLICATION
From the profile page, select new visitor visa application. But before starting, click the view more info to know if your country’s visa fee is waived by answering a few more questions. Once done, click view fees and receiving centre button.
STEP 6: START YOUR APPLICATION
Fill in as accurately and truthfully as possible. You will need to indicate the dates of your planned visit to NZ, and if you have pre-purchased your onward ticket or if you could afford to buy one for yourself. You will also be asked about your physical health, criminal records, employment history, partner or spouse information, and a contact person in NZ – friend or family. I got stuck here so I had to save this for later which means all the previous pages I have answered are saved but my application has not been submitted yet.
STEP 6.1 ANSWERING THE QUESTIONAIRE
Answering the questions is fairly easy. There were more confusing questions in the Australian visa than this. You should be fine. Always remember to save this for later if you’re not ready to submit yet. There are also FAQs available to help you through the questions.
STEP 6.2 UPLOADING THE DOCUMENTS
This is the harder part for 2 reasons – it only accepts PDF for all other documents except for your photo. So you need to have it installed on your pc, or its equivalent (open source). You can also apply online on your mobile devices and make sure you have can save your images as PDF. For me, it was easier on a laptop so I made sure I had it installed.
The second reason is that, since there is no interview, you rely on your documents to show the purpose and intention of your visit. You have to indicate your plan on your cover letter and make sure you don’t upload anything that is not necessary or that may further delay your application, take it from me.
I uploaded a credit card statement because I wanted to show that aside from the cash I have in my bank account, I also have emergency funds from my card. Problem is, I uploaded it with the usual password requirement so the officer was not able to open it. They had to call me and ask to re-upload or delete the said document, which caused a delay in the approval of my visa. Mary didn’t upload the same document and she got her result in 3 business days.
STEP 7 SENDING THE PASSPORT AND PAYMENT TO VFS
Right after submitting all your documents online, you have to send your passport to VFS. Although the visa fee of NZD 165 (almost 6,000 PhP) itself is waived for some nationalities, there are fees that need to be paid to VFS for processing our document (passport authenticity). In our case, we had to print the last page of the visa instruction at RealMe, paid the fees (PhP 970) to their BDO account, sent the original receipt and our passport. After about 5 business days we already received our passports back.
STEP 7 WHAT IF I GET APPROVED?
Obviously your next step is to book your flight, if you haven’t. For us, since we would have already been in Australia at the time, the ticket we booked via Jetstar was Melbourne – Auckland – Sydney because our Cebu Pacific ticket was Manila – Melbourne / Sydney – Manila. Why did we go this route? It was cheaper this way to break down the expensive Manila-Auckland ticket.
Imagine, when we booked our Manila-Melbourne (3,999) / Sydney-Manila (9,499) via Cebu Pacific, it was only a total of some 27,+++ RT for two (no add-ons). You could get it cheaper if you exit from Melbourne or if you did not have specific dates (this is for Mary’s birthday, so yeah, we had specific dates). At the time of scouting, the Jetstar fare from Melbourne to Auckland was only at 3,+++ per passenger. That’s what enticed us to do the Australia-New Zealand trip.
Of course, we wanted to first secure the NZ visa because it would have been our first, and Mary had to secure a multiple-entry visa to Australia for this plan to work, as I already have one, expiring in 2020. So after all the delays and waiting, we still managed to book the Melbourne-Auckland-Sydney flight at 11,+++ which would have made our round trip tickets from and back to Manila at 24,+++ per passenger. That was like one-way of any other Manila-Auckland flight you can find. Plus, we get the chance to explore 3 destinations in one trip. Not bad for a full time employee’s accumulated leave credits, huh?
STEP 7.1 WHAT IF I DON’T GET APPROVED?
The obvious answer to this question is, you can’t go. I have tried to scour the website if there’s a way to appeal but so far I haven’t seen nor heard of any. What I’ve seen though is, there is no appeal for those who will be deported (which means you’re already in NZ to begin with). I also see some guides on appealing a visa refusal but it’s not from the official website. Instead, it’s from immigration law firms.
If you get denied, then maybe you can reapply next time? We will update this blog when we learn something on this subject.
Alternatively, you can always explore other countries where Philippine Passport Holders are not required to secure a visa (either visa-free or visa on arrival) in the photo below:
STEP 7.2 WHAT IF I WANT TO MAKE A FOLLOW UP?
The approval time varies, Mary got hers in 3 business days, some friends said about 2 weeks, I got mine longer due to that error. The average time is 19 days.
Like I said, my application was unnecessarily delayed due to my own mistake, and I was getting nervous both at the fact that the Auckland tickets may soar high, and that Mary may have to spend her birthday alone in NZ or that we don’t go at all. So I contacted VFS since they’re the official partner of New Zealand immigration here in the Philippines. I got the response I needed and the visa got posted on my realme account shortly thereafter.
So, what are you waiting for? Get your middle earth goals going! We are!