Monday, March 13, 2017

New Zealand Tourist Visa Online Application for Filipinos

New Zealand. My dream destination for a very very long time. Last year during my birthday (which was actually before the year ends), I thought about the things I wanted to do the most that I haven't done yet. This came to my mind first. It was then that I decided that I'm going to this stunning country this year, no matter what.

An expensive country to visit like NZ definitely requires a visa from Filipinos. The good thing is that, the visa fee is waived for us Pinoys if we are just visiting up to 59 days. You just have to pay for the processing fee. Sounds good to me!

Photo Credits to Tourism New Zealand

Just like Oz, I found out that we can apply online for the NZ visa. I actually prefer this method over paper application. No printing and photo copying, more eco-friendly and it is faster and easier to do so. Again, a scanner is a must for online visa applications.

You are eligible to apply online if:
  • You are applying as an individual
  • You have a credit card
Otherwise, you are required to submit a paper application through VFS.


Online Visa Application Requirements:
  1. Passport
    • Scan your passport photo page.
  2. Photo
    •  Your scanned photo should be passport-sized, neutral face and in light background.
  3. Evidence of Funds
    • Bank Statement - for the the last 6 months. If you have an online banking account, you can save or print as pdf from there. For passbook accounts, scan it.
    • Bank Certificate - I requested my bank to reflect my account opening date and ADB. Not really required but I think this will give an edge to my application too.
  4. Proof of Employment
    • Certicate of Employment
    • Employer Leave Approval
  5. Proof of Pre-Purchased Travel
    •  Round Trip Flight Tickets - unlike other countries that discourage buying tickets before getting a visa, NZ actually requires purchase of onward travel tickets before you apply for their visa
  6. National Identity Document
    •  SSS ID - is what I have submitted. You may also opt to submit your Driver's License or PRC ID as long as it's a valid government-issued ID
  7.  Other Supporting Documents*
    • Birth Certificate - from NSO
    • Cover Letter - explaining your purpose of travel and your planned length of stay is a good way to express your honest intentions on why you're visiting their country
    • Day to Day Itinerary - this will convince them that the amount of money you have is enough to support your travels around their country 
    • Credit Card Statement - for the the last 6 months. Get it from your online account or scan your paper statements.
    • Income Tax Return 
    • Records of Previous Travel - your present and expired passports' visas and stamps
    • Confirmation of Hotel Bookings
  8. My Australian Visa*
    • Because I'm traveling to Oz before NZ
Those marked with asterisk (*) are optional requirements that I submitted which I believed could positively affect my visa application.

Additional Notes: 
  •  There is no need to notarize any of the documents. I just scanned all of my docs. Only translated documents requires notarization.
  •  NZ Immigration website has a file size limit. The size of each document must not exceed 10MB.
  • Each document type should be uploaded as a single file. For example: 6 months credit card statements, flight bookings, passport pages  with visas and stamps. Instead of uploading it one by one, you should merge them into one pdf file per category.
Helpful Websites for Optimizing your Files:


How to Apply Online:

Step 1: Create a RealMe account


Make sure to register your most frequently used email address because this is where you will receive updates regarding your application.


Step 2: Accomplish the Visitor Visa Application Form

Fill out all applicable fields and answer all questions honestly. Make sure to proof read before submitting to avoid delays in application process or incorrect information on your visa.


Step 3: Upload your documents

Finally, it's time to submit fruits of your labor - your optimized documents! Actually it was my first time to learn about converting, splitting and merging of pdf files. Whew! :)

when you reach this part, you're almost done!

After submitting your application, a Thank you message that needs to be printed will appear in your screen:

print this!

You must print it because you will need to bring that along with your passport to VFS. But don't go right away to VFS. Wait for an email from NZ Immigration acknowledging the receipt of your application on their end. That's the time that you can go and drop your passport.



Step 4: Submit your passport to VFS.

VFS is the third party agency that processes paper visa applications and accepts the online applicants passport submission for NZ. Their address is on the photo above or you can just click the link to check their office hours and phone number.

You just need to bring your passport and the thank you letter, that's it. As I mentioned earlier, no need to pay for the visa fee but there is a processing fee. I paid for the following fees:

Php   570.00 - Passport Handling (Online Application)
         380.00 - Courier
         110.00 - SMS updates
---------------
Php 1060.00 - Total Paid

Courier is optional but it'll work well if you live far from VFS or like in my case, I find it burdensome to go back and forth to VFS. Anyway, I spend almost the same amount of money for Grab/Uber going to their (not so accessible) location so might as well just have it couriered. It's actually quite steep for a one-way courier but whatever.

SMS fee is also optional but I also found it very helpful and it'll lessen your worries about the status of your application. As in they will give you updates from the time it has been forwarded to the Embassy until the time it was dispatched to the courier.


Processing Time

My visa processing took 3 business days. This is from the time I submitted my passport to VFS until the day I received my passport back at home. Pretty fast! If I'll include the time I submitted online plus the day I waited for the acknowledgement email, that's only 2 business days additional.


Thank you NZ for my multiple entry visa! :)

They granted me Multiple Entry valid for 1 year! Woohoo! I'm happy because I was not hoping for more than a single entry but they gave me one. And it's NZ - one of the most beautiful countries in the world! The only downside is that, they don't issue me an actual visa sticker that would be visible in my passport. Like Oz, they just issued me an E-Visa. No biggie for me as long as I can travel to their country! I'm really ecstatic! This is it! :)

Note: I deleted crucial information from the photo because this visa is valid until next year.


My Application Timeline:

Jan 29 - submitted online application
Jan 31 - received acknowledgement letter from NZ Immigration
Feb 02 - dropped my passport to VFS and paid processing fee
Feb 07 - got my visa and received my passport back

I looks longer than what I've stated above because there are 2 weekends in between and I didn't bring my passport to VFS right away. But all in all, it only took 5 business days.


If NZ is also your dream destination, I hope this post helps you with your trip planning. A year ago, I did not push through with my plans thinking that getting this visa is taxing or much more complicated than getting a Schengen. It was easier than I imagined!

So if you think you've saved enough and you can't stop dreaming about that splendid Middle Earth scenery,
I say GO FOR IT! ♥





The distance between your dreams and reality is called action.