Depending on which country you’re from, you can stay in New Zealand for 3 months under a Visitor Visa. But what if circumstances cause you to stay there for longer than 3 months? This is when you need to write a bona fide.
Hence, this post is for you if you need to write up a bona fide to get a visitor’s visa (specifically the one for New Zealand).
It may also serve as a useful reference even if you are not going to New Zealand.
PS: If you want to see the other types of visas that New Zealand offers:
We have a handy comparison table in our previous post, Working Holiday visa for New Zealand.
Explore this post:
- Types of visitor visa New Zealand
- Requirements for visitor visa New Zealand
- What is a bonafide?
- Why do you need a bona fide?
- Bona fide sample letter
- Guidelines to writing a bona fide for a New Zealand visitor visa
- Why Did My Bona Fide Get Rejected By The NZ Immigration?
To put it simply, this visa will allow you to travel in New Zealand for a maximum of 9 months. You can visit friends, go for a sports event, etc.
And you can even study for a total of 3 months.
But there should absolutely be no working on your part – not for food, money or accommodation.
There are 2 types of Visitor Visa in New Zealand:
Visa Waiver Visitor Visa (Waiver Country)
The maximum number of months you can stay in New Zealand with this visa is 3 months for non-UK citizens. UK citizens get to stay up to 6 months with this visa.
You don’t need any documentation except your passport and a return ticket for this visa when you arrive at the immigration in New Zealand.
And if all goes well, you should get a stamp in your passport from the respective officer.
For this visa, it is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT that you fill out your arrival card as honestly as possible.
But this blog post is mainly focusing on the other type of visitor visa:
This visa cost me $165 NZD back in 2018 and lets you stay in New Zealand for a maximum of 9 months.
Provided that you have not already exceeded a total of 9 months’ stay in New Zealand in an 18 month period.
In contrast to the previous Visitor Visa (Country Waiver):
You need all sorts of paperwork as evidence that you will be a genuine visitor.
Don’t put this off to the last minute because it really does take the immigration office a long time to process applications for the Visitor Visa.
For your reference, I submitted my application in May 21, 2018 and got the Visa in June 13, 2018 – a total of 18 working days.
NZeTA And IVL For Visa Waiver Travellers
What is this the NZeTA?
All would-be visitors (including transit) to New Zealand must check if they need an NZeTA (New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority) before going to New Zealand.
Besides this NZeTA, you may have to pay an International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL) too.
- Anyone visiting or in-transit from a visa waiver country (see the list of visa waiver countries)
- Permanent residents of Australia
- Anyone travelling on a passport from a transit visa waiver country who will be in transit through Auckland International Airport on the way out to another country
- Even cruise ship passengers from visa waiver countries must have an NZeTA.
Who’s not applicable for the NZeTa?
- Anyone who needs a visa for New Zealand or is already holding a valid one (this includes a Permanent Resident Visa)
- New Zealand citizens
- Australian citizen travelling with Australia passport
How do I apply for the NZeTa?
There are 2 methods:
- NZeTA online request system on immigration.govt.nz
- Download the immigration App and apply through there.
When to apply for the NZeTa:
It takes up to 72 hours for your NZeTA to be approved so do so way before your trip to avoid being barred from boarding the plane!
How much will application cost?
The cost of the IVL (International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy) will be NZD $35 and will be charged together in the same transaction as your NZeTA:
If you apply online, it will be NZD $12 + NZD $35 = NZD $47
And if you apply through their app, it will be NZD $9 + NZD $35 = NZD $44
How long are my NZeTA and IVL valid for?
They are valid for multiple visits and up to a maximum of 2 years.
Criteria You Have To Meet For A Visitor Visa
- Be able to prove your identity
- Have good health or acknowledge (and prove) that you will pay for your own health care
- Most importantly, you have to be a genuine tourist – no funny business or working under table.
- You can apply for your family in the same application but you have to pay the fees per head
- Prove that you have sufficient funds needed to travel around and a ticket to get out of New Zealand later (or have evidence of a sponsorship)
- No major criminal offenses or previous denial to a visa from another country – you might be able to talk your way out of this one through your bona fide but there is no guarantee
You also need these:
Paperwork For A New Zealand Visitor Visa
These are the things you have to upload together with your online application on the official New Zealand immigration website:
- Bona fide letter
- Chest x-ray documentation – it cost me $160 to do it in Auckland (back in 2018). If it’s cheaper in your own country, do that instead. Check the official website for the list of panel clinics in your country.
- Resume or CV – it goes without saying that this should be your most recent resume
- Bank statement – at least $1000 NZD** for every month (per person and including accommodation) you intend to stay (not including the money for the flight tickets!)
- A scanned softcopy of your passport (make sure your passport validity covers the duration of your intended stay!)
- Passport photo – Save some money and do this in your own country.
It cost me $25 NZD to get it done at the post office in a small town in New Zealand. Check out the passport photo do’s and don’t’s on the official website first!
**Alternatively, you just need to show that you have:
- At least $400 NZD per month per person together with proof of payment for your accommodation in New Zealand
- A financial sponsor to cover you during your stay in New Zealand
More Information On The Chest X-ray Requirement
- The clinic submitted the x-ray form to the immigration office on my behalf.
- Note that your x-ray must come from a panel clinic listed on the official New Zealand immigration website.
- When I last checked, there were only two acceptable clinics for Malaysia. One was a clinic in Kuala Lumpur and another one was located in Penang.
- Auckland however, has many panel clinics – the one I went to was walking distance from my rented house.
To start with, a bona fide can be a cover letter that explains your background and purpose of visiting the country that you wish to apply for.
It may also include your future plans after your intended time in the country you visit. And that is the case if you want to apply for a New Zealand visitor visa.
The bona fide should serve to clear any doubts the immigration may have on your true intentions:
You can therefore also explain why you don’t intend to permanently immigrate to New Zealand. For example, proof of a steady business in your home country. Or several properties that you own and manage in your own country.
Another important reason for a bonafide is to prove that you have the financial means to support yourself during your stay in New Zealand (without having to work there), and be able to fly out of the country on the designated date.
New Zealand immigration requires a black and white softcopy of such a document.
You can upload it online together with the other documents listed above. After making a RealMe account (an easy and straightforward process in itself).
Use the bona fide letter to tie all your evidence together (not literally, of course!).
When I wrote my own bona fide, I wasn’t sure whether it would even be approved or not. There were no templates to follow and the instructions on the official New Zealand immigration site were very general.
Move on to the next section in this post if you want to know how to write your own bona fide cover letter.
PS: We don’t offer bona fide cover letter services. I’ve gotten a few requests which I declined.
You can use this as a base template for your own bona fide.
Want more details?
I based the following guidelines on what I could piece together from various sources online.
- Firstly, state why you want the visitor visa. (e.g. for me, my main reason was to follow my then-boyfriend who successfully obtained a working holiday visa. I included his visa application number here at this point.) Mention what you plan to do while in New Zealand. It should be very clear that you are not going to set up a business or work part time while you are there.
- Include a summary of your travel plans – just put it into one of your first paragraphs. If you have a detailed plan, you can attached it together with the cover letter.
- Next, write something on your family background. The purpose is to show that your roots are still in your own country and it’s highly unlikely you would move to New Zealand.
- Education background – short summary will do
- Working background – write a short summary on your working history and add your current resume to the upload
- Health background – if you have any major ailments, here is where you can mention those. I think you will have a higher chance of getting your visa approved if you’re relatively healthy. Otherwise, make sure your bank statements reflect that you can cover your own medical expenses.
- Travel background – your intention to travel to New Zealand for a holiday appears more credible if you have already been to other countries for a holiday before. List them down together with the year and month of travel as well as the duration of each trip. State what the purpose of each trip was and if you had any problems obtaining a Visa for those. Drop old Visa numbers here if you still have them.
Ending Your Bona Fide Cover Letter For A Visitor Visa
Besides all of the above, I added more details on our travel plans (by month) in New Zealand as well as our current New Zealand address and phone number. I even put our camper car’s license plate number and my boyfriend’s New Zealand working history.
If you need to leave New Zealand and re-enter again during your holiday duration in New Zealand, please request for it.
Explain why you would need a multiple-entry Visa. Put down the exact date you plan to leave New Zealand (i.e. the last day of your holiday) if you can too. They will not grant you 9 months by default.
At the very end of my bona fide cover letter, I shared my future travel plans after New Zealand to emphasize that I would not be migrating to New Zealand in the future.
My last point was to drop my email address and ask them to contact me if there were any questions (They didn’t have any questions though).
After writing your letter, covert it into a pdf and upload it together with the other documents.
As of May 2022, visa application processing for the Visitor Visa can take anywhere between 44 days to 5 months. Check here for the latest update.
Back in 2018, it was 21 days and if successful, you should get an email from the New Zealand immigration that contains your client number and your visitor visa. The expiry date will be clearly stated too.
Moreover, if you did request for multiple-entry and the request got through, it will be stated there too. Good luck in your application!
Making Changes After Your Visa Has Been Approved
Let’s say you need to change your visa conditions to multiple-entry. Or, you want to extend further.
Here are some things to consider:
- You have to pay the fee of $165 NZD again (now $246 NZD) and submit online again but with the previous supporting documents with some exceptions (e.g. update bank statement and cover letter)
- The X-ray certificate is valid for up to 3 years
- Use the same passport photo you uploaded last time if you still look the same.
Before you go through all the effort of extending your current visitor visa, consider the possibility of flying out of New Zealand before the end of your visa and coming back with the visitor waiver visa.
For example, if your visitor visa happens to end on Jan 1, 2019. You could fly out of New Zealand and come back with the visitor visa (waiver country) then.
But what if you’ve already used the visitor visa (waiver) before?
According to the immigration officer I called, my visitor waiver visa record (I previously used 2 of 3 allowed months) reset when I obtained the longer visitor visa.
In fact, he said as long as I leave the country before Jan 1, 2019, I could come back in using my refreshed visitor waiver visa (i.e. another 3 months).
The same conditions still apply for the visitor waiver visa – e.g. return ticket out of New Zealand and proof of sufficient funds during your visit to New Zealand
Working Holiday Visa For New Zealand
Or you could try your luck with the Working Holiday visa (if you were never successfully granted one before and you are still less than 31 years old.
If you already have one and it’s time to extend it, do check out our post about how to extend your New Zealand working holiday visa (and some conditions to meet).
Why Did My Bona Fide Get Rejected By The NZ Immigration?
The immigration office will unfortunately not state the reason for your application getting rejected.
So to answer this question, think back on what you wrote in your bona fide. Did you give them reason to suspect your real intentions of going to New Zealand?
Reasons A Bona Fide Will Be Rejected By The NZ Immigration
Here are some possible reasons why your bona fide was rejected based on what is listed on the NZ immigration official website (and also my own thoughts on the matter):
- Evidence and content in your bona fide (as well as previous applications) don’t match up
- There is cause to believe that your actual reason for visiting New Zealand is false (e.g., different from you wrote on your visa application or arrival card) or unlawful
- It appears doubtful that you will follow the conditions of your visa (e.g., previous visa rejection from another country, lack of sufficient funds, previous breach of visa conditions, etc)
- You are missing some necessary documents to return to your home country (this is why having a return flight ticket might increase your chances of getting your application approved)
- You’ve exceed the maximum length of stay possible for your circumstances and country of origin
- Your country of origin is not in the visa waiver country list (this might affect your chances of success)
- Your passport validity is not long enough (I.e., expiry date must be at least 3 months after the indented date of your visit)
When they say lawful purposes, they mean any of the following – you are going to New Zealand simply for a holidaying or sightseeing, to visit friends and relatives, training or studying in New Zealand for 3 months or less, for your wedding or a business consultation, or to participate in an amateur sports event.
Other reasons they may accept include getting medical treatment in New Zealand. Or if you have a personal invitation from the the NZ government.
Whatever, the reason, you are NOT ALLOWED to work in New Zealand during the duration of your stay if you are holding a Visitor Visa.
Note: Applicable to both Visa Waiver Visitor Visa and Visitor Visa
Furthermore, if you’re travelling with a partner, you have to prove your relationship (a screenshot of your chat history is not good enough) and they must have a clear record too (e.g. following their visa conditions, no previous visa rejections or criminal records, etc).
By now, you should at least know how to get started on your New Zealand bona fide – that pesky (but unfortunately crucial) letter that stands between you and a visitor visa.
Don’t forget to specify exactly when you want the visa to end (no more than 9 months in a 12 month period). Or else, the immigration office will do it for you and they will put the bare minimum (the date of your flight).
We really recommend you to call the NZ immigration office yourself before your trip as they have the latest information on visas. It takes a while to get through to the office so list down all your questions first!
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