I have been working now for Earth and Sky Observatory, in Lake Tekapo, New Zealand, for the last year. I was originally going to go back to Europe at the end of January this year when my current work visa expired but there’s been a change of plan. Now I’ve decided to stay on here in New Zealand for another few months to save a bit more money and give myself more time to decide where I’m going to base myself when I go back to Europe in May. I wasn’t really ready to leave here yet. To be honest, I don’t think I’ll ever be ready to leave here but I’ve given myself a little extra time to get used to the idea.
On 5th January I applied for an extension of my work visa with the same company for another eight months until the end of August. If I had applied for another year’s work visa, then that would mean that I would be spending over two years in New Zealand. That being the case, I would have to apply for a police check in Amsterdam which can take the Dutch authorities up to four weeks to process. I’d have to get that document translated into English in Christchurch and then it would take another four weeks minimum for the New Zealand visa to come through. I didn’t think there was any point in waiting that long for another visa considering the fact that I really want to leave Tekapo in May. By the time the visa comes through it would be time to leave Tekapo.
Leaving Tekapo means finding another job and in order to do that, I’d have to apply for a new work visa. I could stay on with a visitor’s visa in a bigger town or city for a few more months while looking for another job, but if I didn’t get a job within those few months, I’d have two months less money in my pocket when I do go back to Europe. There are also family issues at home in Ireland, that play a part in my decision.
So applying for the work visa this time, without the police check, was a lot less hassle. I just had to fill in the immigration form, include my original qualifications and work reference letters, and any other supporting documents. My employer had to supply an employer supplementary form, proof that they advertised the position for a month previous to my application and tried to get New Zealanders to fill the position. I didn’t have to get a medical or a chest x-ray done because that was already provided in last year’s application. I didn’t have to submit a police check then, as I was only applying for an eight month visa.
Within a few days, Immigration asked me to provide my IRD earnings for the last twelve months, copies of my bank statements showing the wages I received and salary slips for the same period. The whole process this time only took two and half weeks. Immigration made the decision on my visa on 21st January, two days before my work visa expired. They gave me the visa until the 19th May. Why the 19th May and not the end of August you may ask? Without a police check, I’m only allowed to stay in the country for a maximum of two years. They’ve included the time that I was here on holiday in 2005, 2009 and 2012 and the time I’ve been living here since last year which adds up to two years. That’s being a bit sticky, I think. But that’s New Zealand immigration for you. I’m sure it’s very similar in other countries. They’re all very strict.
To be able to get residency here, you need, among other things, to be living here for five years. You also need to have a qualification on their skills list or get a company to sponsor you or marry a New Zealander. I don’t see myself studying here for 3 years to get a bachelor’s degree and to be able to get sponsorship the job needs to be highly paid. Residency is not impossible but I think it would be very difficult for me without a qualification on their skills list. If I can’t get residency then I’d really only want to stay here for another year or so. I’ll just have to find myself a Kiwi to marry, won’t I? I just wish though I could find a job in a bigger town for the remaining time that I’m in New Zealand. It might make my life here more enjoyable. Anything is possible though.