The other kind of visa

I have finally received my temporary work visa (also called a working holiday maker visa) for New Zealand, and overall, the application process was actually quite simple and speedy. The only delay came when trying to find out when my driver’s license was issued, a piece of information DPS doesn’t give out over the phone or for less than $4.

I must applaud the New Zealand government’s management of visa requests. The website — though somewhat wanting in organization — is chock-full of information and offers a wide range of services. I’m sure the need for a comprehensive and customer-focused site has arisen out of the boom in the NZ tourist industry following the release Lord of the Rings films.

Whatever the reason, it has certainly made my life a lot easier in preparing for my journey.

Australia, on the other hand, isn’t quite as friendly to US tourists, and requires that you coordinate any working holiday visas through a third-party recruiting organization, such as BUNAC. Although BUNAC does offer several exciting opportunities, the terms are rather restrictive and not suitable for someone who’s not sure how long he’s going to be anywhere.

I like the freedom of the NZ visa because it let’s you look for, apply for and accept jobs as you would in your home country, with restrictions only on the type of job you can get (non-permanent, lasting no longer than 4 months — though I’d be surprised if the latter was heavily enforced).

But it does make sense: unlike the US, without a large contingent of non-natives in it’s workforce, the New Zealand government would benefit considerably from travellers who don’t mind some manual labor during the seasonal months.

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