August 2, 2021
My lovely friend Miriam who designed this amazing website, moved to New Zealand in November of 2020 to live and work. In January of 2021 I got the opportunity to sit down with her and discuss how her move went and what it is like to move to New Zealand as a Canadian.
You can watch the full Youtube interview here.
Can you tell everyone why you decided to move to New Zealand?
So my boyfriend lives here and we have been in a long distance relationship. Being here with him has been awesome and I plan on staying here for a long time.
What was the transition like when you were moving because moving during a pandemic had to have had it’s challenges.
I think the whole immigration process was what I was most concerned about. Even though I had been accepted and had been emailing back and forth with Immigration New Zealand, my biggest concern was being stopped at the border. I had waited so long for this, if anything were to have gone wrong, that would have been the worst possible scenario, so that was what was most stressful for me.
Covid-19 was also a factor too. When I was in quarantine, I didn’t want to leave my room, even though we were allowed to go for walks within the confines of the rules, but I just did not want to because I was scared that I could be infected.
Once I got here, I knew what to expect because I had been to New Zealand before to visit my boyfriend.
How were you actually able to travel and get into New Zealand during a pandemic? Did you need a specific Visa?
It was a really long process with Immigration New Zealand. The first step is to apply online to be considered for the Visa application. I was denied three times. Finally in October they opened up the restrictions a little bit more to partnerships and people who aren’t New Zealand citizens. I put together a ton of information about our partnership and basically got in on a Critical Purpose Visitor Visa. It was based on our partnership and the fact that I have a university degree in skills that they want here.
What was the Visa turnaround time?
When I applied to even be considered for a Visa, they got back to me within three days. The first three times when I was denied, I think it was a two day turnaround time and I think it was because they were going through a bunch of people and denying. I kind of knew that when they were taking longer to look at the big letter I wrote them, that maybe this means I will get accepted.
After that, I had to apply for the actual Visa and that took about three weeks to get approved.
Did they deny you those first three times because of Covid-19 or was there another reason?
The first three times, I think I probably was not as in depth with the reason why I wanted to come. I think the fact that they lessened their restrictions by the time october rolled around and I was able to use that and say “look at this news article your government put out, I know that I would be allowed in based on these qualifications”.
When it got approved, I was more clear with why I should be accepted. I also put together a Google Drive folder of all of the evidence that proves we are in a legitimate partnership, so they see right off the bat that I had proof that I wasn’t just some random person trying to get into the country. They could click on that link and see everything.
Is the Visa that you are on, a permanent Visa or does it have an expiry and can you re-apply?
I am currently on a Critical Purpose Visitor Visa, and it is a temporary six month Visa type that Immigration New Zealand created specifically for people travelling during the Covid-19 pandemic. If I return home at any point during the six months on the Visa, I can’t come back to New Zealand, I need to re-apply for a new Visa, so it is a single entry Visa.
My plan is, and Immigration New Zealand told me this via email when I applied, that I could apply for a partnership work visa based on our partnership. If you have been living together for over a year, it is a two year visa. If you haven’t been living together for over a year, it is just a one year visa. Even if I apply near the end of the six months of the visa that I am currently on, they will just give me an interim visa so I can still stay in the country while my other one is being approved.
Once I have the work visa, I will be granted multiple entries so I can go back and forth between Canada and New Zealand, and be able to come back without any issues.
Right now you are doing a little bit of freelance work and are in the process of getting a job right? I mean you designed my website, and you did a fantastic job on that by the way. For this kind of work, do you need to have a work Visa for New Zealand?
Because I am on a visitor visa right now, I am not allowed to work for a New Zealand company, but I am allowed to work remotely for a Canadian company. Once I get my work visa, I can work in New Zealand no problem.
Can you be on two visas at the same time?
No. Actually when I was planning on coming here in April, I got a holiday working visa, which was for a year. It basically means that my intent is to come here on holiday, but I can also work if I want to. Then when my flight got cancelled, I wasn’t allowed to come back on that visa, so the visa was void and I had to come on this critical purpose visitor visa. I asked Immigration New Zealand about that specifically because does that mean once my six month visa expired I still have six months remaining on my holiday working visa, but it didn’t work out that way.
If you feel comfortable sharing this information, how much did you pay for your visa?
The holiday working visa was around $250, and I had to pay to also be considered for the visa and I think they charged $40 for that. I did check it out the other day, and for a work visa I think it is around $600, then the critical purpose visa was around $300 as well.
I have seen mixed things on the internet that you have to pay for the hotel accommodation when you get there for quarantine. Some people do, and some people don’t, right?
So the way it works is that New Zealand citizens don’t have to pay because they are coming back to their own country, unless they are going on vacation and purposely going against what the government recommends. I am not a New Zealand resident, so in most cases, you will have to pay.
How was your quarantine? I think I would hate it if I was put in the same room for two weeks.
No, actually I was really surprised. They shuttle you from the airport to whichever quarantine facility you are in. The hotel was five star, they had free wifi, unlimited TV and a really big window overlooking the city.
The food was really good, it was delivered three times a day, I was able to pick my meals ahead of time online and accommodated for any dietary restrictions.
There were military police officers, air force, everyone all around, all the time, so you felt pretty secure. Everyone was wearing masks, you were always socially distancing and they came around and took your temperature everyday. I had to get two Covid tests while I was there, one on day three and one on day 11 or 12.
Is there a specific process for setting up a bank account there?
I have not been through that process yet, because I need to have a job first, but on the phone they said that I need to bring my visa, passport and an overseas tax number which I am assuming is like my social insurance number.
How was the whole adjustment as a Canadian moving to New Zealand? Are there any major cultural differences, and anything you struggled with or was it an easy transition?
It was pretty easy, I think because I had been there before I kind of already knew what to expect. I found it to not be that different from Canada. I noticed though that they drive on the other side of the road. I can drive on my Canadian license for a year, until I have to get a New Zealand license. I am pretty used to driving on the left hand side of the road now, I just needed to go out a couple times.
Where did you gather all your information for some of the trickier things that you couldn't easily have found online?
The Immigration New Zealand website was my number one source for information. Their website was super easy to navigate. Facebook was also a lifesaver. I just added myself to a bunch of groups. There was one specific group called “Canadians in New Zealand. People would just post their questions and other members of the group would answer based on their experiences. There were lots of things about what to pack, pros and cons of living in New Zealand vs Canada, what the costs were, what you should provide as evidence for your visa, how you get a police check when you live in a different country, etc. It is super helpful, and satisfies your mind to know exactly what to expect.
Is there anything else you’d like to touch on or give advice to anybody who is thinking about doing this or is making this transition?
I read up a lot on the idea of partnership visas, so if anybody is trying to get in another country, because you are in a long distance relationship, there is no such thing as too much information. I have been gathering photos, videos and any sort of document I possibly can and putting them into a Google Drive. A lot of people say “Oh I don’t know if they are going to want to know this about us”. Just include it. You want to prove as much as you possibly can that you are in a legitimate relationship, and if I have learned anything through this process, that is what it is.
Thank you again Miriam for taking the time to meet with me and talk about your transition to New Zealand.
You can find Miriam and her business Webkah, here