Paano magtrabaho ang mga Kiwi

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Isa sa mga pinakamahalagang adjustment na kailangang gawin ng isang migrante ay maintindihan ang pagkakaiba ng work culture sa New Zealand kumpara sa Pilipinas. Kahit wala ka pang trabaho dito, makakatulong ito kung paano sumagot at kumilos sa isang job interview.

May isang pagaaral na ginawa ang isang Dutch social psychologist na si Geert Hofstede tungkol sa pagkakaiba ng mga kultura pagdating sa trabaho. Tinawag niya itong “Cultural Dimensions Theory” na maaring gamitin para ipaliwanag ang limang natatanging kaibahan ng isang Filipino worker at isang New Zealander.

1. POWER DISTANCE INDEX 

Sa Pilipinas, dahil kadalasan malaki ang mga organisasyon, malaki ang distansya ng mga manager sa kanilang mga tauhan. Tanggap sa ating lipunan ang inequality dahil na rin sa malaking agwat ng mayaman or mahirap. Sa New Zealand, dine describe ang kanilang lipunan as “egalitarian” o likas ng pagkapantay pantay ng mga tao. Dito, pwede mo tawagin ang boss mo by their first name. Sa isang organisasyon, ang mga desisyon ng mga nakakataas ay maaring kwestyunin, at kahit ang mga nasa mababang posisyon ay pwedeng magbigay ng suhestyon. Malaki ang pagpapahalaga natin sa status ng mga titulo tulad ng “Senior Manager” or “Executive”, samantalang sa New Zealand siya ay tatawagin lamang na “Team Leader”.

2.  UNCERTAINTY AVOIDANCE

Para sa mga Kiwi, mahalaga ang pagsunod sa mga batas at alintuntunin. Direkta sila kung magsalita at hindi sinasangayunan ang malabong usapan. Sa Pilipinas naman, ang mga batas ay naroroon, ngunit may flexibility tulad na lang halimbawa sa pagkuha ng driver’s license – pwede “mapagusapan” o maglagay. Sa pagpasok sa trabaho, kung ang nakatakdang oras ay 7:00am halimbawa, pinagbibigyan ang dumarating ng 10-20 minutes late. Sa pakikipagusap, kadalasan ang pagiging prangka para sa Pilipino ay senyales ng kayabangan. Sa paghi-hire naman ng mga empleyado ang Kiwi ay maingat sa pagpili samantalang ang Pilipino ay maaring sumugal sa isang “unknown” – dahil na rin pwede tanggalin kung kinakailangan. Mahalaga ang health and safety policies ng mga kumpanya dito dahil malaki ang penalty kapag may naaksidente o namatay sa trabaho.

3.  LONG TERM VS SHORT TERM ORIENTATION

Ang approach ng Kiwi sa mga problema ay praktikal at outcome-based. Kapag gumawa sila ng desisyon, nagiisip sila ng epekto nito five to ten years down the line. Sa Pilipino naman, mas mahalaga ang agarang solusyon at dumikit sa mga kilos na nakagawian na. Kaya ang isang third world na bansa tulad ng Pilipinas ay mabagal ang economic development, samantalang ang mga mauunlad na bansa tulad ng New Zealand ay focused sa continuous development.

4. MASCULINE VS FEMININE SOCIETY

Kung ihahalintulad ang kultura ng isang bansa sa kasarian ng tao, masasabing ang Pilipinas ay “masculine” – binibigyang halaga ang mga katangian tulad ng strength, dominance at assertiveness samantalang ang lipunan ng New Zealand ay maituturing na “feminine” – binibigyang diin ang kooperasyon, modesty at pagpapahalaga sa mga mahihina. Kung kaya’t hindi umuubra ang masyado pabibo sa interview dito sa New Zealand. Ikaw ang makikita bilang “Tall Poppy” at siguradong kaiinisan. Kahit ikaw pa ang “Michael Jordan” ng industriya mo, dapat ang hangarin mo ay mag “fit in”. Parang laro ng rugby na ang bawa’t isa ay may kanya kanyang papel.

5. INDULGENCE VS RESTRAINT

Pangkaraniwang tawagin ang Kiwi workplace na “laid back” o “petiks” sa salitang kanto. Importante sa kanila ang oras para sa rest and recreation kaya dito sa New Zealand mahaba ang paid vacation leaves (mandatory 4 weeks sa kasalukyang batas). Dito rin sa New Zealand makikita ang pagjo-jogging sa gitna ng lunch break. Sa Pilipinas, kahit mahilig rin tayo magsaya ang kultura natin ay likas na matiisin at hindi alintana ang paghihigpit ng sinturon. Mahilig ang mga pinoy sa overtime kahit umabot ng 70 hours per week magtrabaho samantalang ang kiwi ay bihira magtrabaho ng higit sa 40 hours kada linggo. Ang normal dito ay anywhere between 32-38 hours.

Sa pagiging aware sa limang pangunahing pagkakaiba ng work place culture, mas madali kang makaka assimilate sa lipunan ng mga Kiwi. Handa ka ba para kalimutan ang nakagawian at tanggapin ang mga ito?

5 ways to survive the New Zealand Winter

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On the month of June each year, the winter season in New Zealand begins. It will last until September 1st when spring officially kicks in. For most Filipinos and other nationalities that come from tropical climates, it can be a hard adjustment. But here are some tips I would recommend to make it easier:

1.GET THE RIGHT CLOTHING

The first time I arrived in New Zealand was actually winter season and my mistake during that time was to bring “ukay ukay” jackets to use. Wrong move. Most of them were useless against the Kiwi cold. What you need are “fleece” jackets as what they call them here. I would recommend going for the Merino wool variety which are soft, thin and lightweight but packs in the warmth.

If you are heading for places in the South Island, it is imperative to layer your clothes – perhaps starting with a thermal underwear, your regular clothes as a second layer, a soft shell jacket as the third layer, and perhaps a duck down jacket or a gore-tex jacket (for rain) as your outer layer. If you are walking regularly through snow, it would be ideal to get heavy thermal socks and waterproof boots.

Take note even if you are indoors, you might need long sleeve jerseys and jogging pants to let you sleep properly at night.

These winter clothing do not come cheap. However, I do not suggest you scrimp on them as bad gear might get you sick which would be more costly in the long run. One way to find cheaper options is by going to a local hospice shop (the NZ version of the ukay ukay) or buying online though Trade Me. If you are buying brand new, some of the Kiwi stores I recommend are Kathmandu, Macpac, or Ice Breaker. Just wait for their occasional sales, usually near New Zealand public holidays and NEVER buy full price.

2.GET A FLU VACCINE AND STAY HEALTHY

When the cold months kick in, your chances of getting the infamous New Zealand “bug” (the kiwi term for virus) increases ten fold. If you get stricken, you can be shut down from work for up to 2 weeks and spread misery to the rest of your household. So in order to prevent this, it is advised to get a flu shot from your GP (General Practitioner – the term for family doctor here) or local “chemist” (pharmacy). Cost would be minimal or free in certain situations. Getting enough sleep, eating fruits and vegetables or perhaps taking a multivitamin would be other ways of strengthening your immune system.

3.CHOOSE THE RIGHT HOUSE

Although living in a house you choose might be difficult in certain places particularly in Auckland, your overall health and well-being can be decided by your place of shelter. Steer clear of a “leaky home” if possible. The NZ Ministry of Business lists down the tell-tale signs of one. If you are already living in one, using a dehumidifier might be your best friend to somewhat remedy it. Not only is this cheaper to run, but it is healthier option than using conventional heaters. To save electricity, heat or dehumidify yourself in a single room instead of the whole house.

4.STAY ACTIVE

On winter days, most of us tend to lock ourselves indoors and be a couch potato. This will probably set you up for depression or “winter blues” as they call them. It is recommended that you get sunshine as much as you can. You have options of going skiing, running or even brisk walking provided you follow number one as above. You can also sign up for a local gym if doing outdoor activities are unbearable. Exercise will help inject endorphins to your brain, sending positive vibes to the whole body.

5.TAKE A VACATION

Why not take a break? This is what I usually do. During winter months in my experience it is usually cheap to get airfares to go to the other side of the world. USA, Canada and most of Europe are experiencing summer. Other options are nearby pacific islands like Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu or Rarotonga. The warm weather will certainly help you relax even if it’s only a couple of weeks.

 

 

 

What the latest immigration changes mean to the Kiwinoy hopeful

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Many saw the immigration changes as a political move by the National party to gain votes in the upcoming election

Last week, the government announced major changes to the skilled migration eligibility by putting in place salary thresholds to decide whether you are “skilled” or not.

Under the new policy, those earning below $48,859 a year will no longer be considered “skilled” regardless of job description. However, if you are earning above $73,299, you will automatically be considered “highly skilled” even if your job is cleaning toilets.

Immigration NZ will also remove the ability of temporary work visa holders to bring in partners unless they qualify themselves.

A three-year limit would be placed on temporary Essential Skills visa holders earning below the threshold while seasonal work visas changes would see those issued for a season rather than a full 12 months.

These will impact the Filipino immigrant in the following ways:

1. Entry via the student visa would become extremely difficult, if not impossible

To many Filipinos coming here as students, there is a big upfront cost. Without the prospect of gaining residency, the numbers would sure to drop in the coming years. The changes are tilted towards the mature qualified post graduates, away from the young undergrads which is what is happening today. This would be the death knell of the dodgy private schools or PTEs as we know it.

For you to make it to 160 points, the Filipino student should gun for Masters or Phds in top-ranking universities like Auckland or Otago University. This move not only costs more but entry into graduate programs are more stringent. It goes without saying that you should specialise in areas that are in demand.

2. Most foreign workers in the low wage sectors would just be disposable workers or “OFW forever”

The bulk of Filipinos in New Zealand are those working in the Hospitality Industry as Chefs, caregivers in rest homes, and farm hands. They hold temporary work visas and most would be shut off from ever gaining residency — except those covered by the one-off “South Island contribution visa.

What this means is that people working in this sector should aspire for management roles such as becoming a Head Chef, Healthcare Centre Manager or Farm Manager. The magic number you are looking at is earning $24 per hour and in reality, not a lot of small businesses in New Zealand can pay such amount unless you put on added responsibility.

If you are given the maximum stay of a three year visa, remember this will be followed by a “minimum stand down period” before becoming eligible to reapply for another temporary visa so you have to act fast.

3. The wise will only target high paying jobs or high paying companies

 If you are still strategising your way into New Zealand, there is no other way now as it had become a question of salary above anything else.

According to Careers NZ, the jobs with the highest median salaries (as of 2015) are the following:

  • Doctors/specialists – 207k
  • IT systems architect – 125k
  • IT project manager – 115k
  • IT consultant – 105k
  • IT sales – 105k
  • Engineering manager – 105k
  • Bank, Finance and insurance manager – 100k
  • Finance manager – 97k
  • Energy Engineer – 95k
  • Lawyer – 95k
  • Commerical Real Estate Agent – 95k
  • Corporate banker – 95k
  • Marketing, media and communications manager – 95k
  • Construction project manager – 90k

Even if you are still in the Philippines or in a third country like Singapore, Japan or Korea, you can gain qualifications and experience in these areas and work your way up. Another possibility you can explore are working in multinational companies with offices in New Zealand. Like all good things, it is a process and you should be ready if the goal posts would move again in the future.

 

Do not study business

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In a previous post, I exposed the dangerous minefield called the student visa.

If you are the type of person where money is not an issue and really want to pursue further studies in New Zealand then it would be wise to select the right course that would increase your chances of securing a skilled job.

Recently, I’ve been meeting a lot of pinoys studying diploma of business here that had been sold to them by unscrupulous agents back home.

Many have paid thousands of dollars, worked in odd jobs and ended up packing their bags in debt.

Studying business is a terrible choice if you plan on permanently settling here.

After finishing your studies it is highly unlikely someone will offer you to “manage” their business.

For one, New Zealand is a tiny, isolated country in the Pacific where the average business is 1-5 people, a vast majority of which are solo operators.

Think about this – if you had a business in the Philippines would you hire a foreigner to manage your operations?

No, you would hire someone with local knowledge and that takes years of on-the-ground experience.

Not an expensive piece of paper.

Business courses do not teach a marketable trade or specific skill.

The most successful business people in the world did not study “business”, they just had an idea and learned it as they went along.

Another similar course being peddled is “Healthcare Management” to target the clueless pinoy nurses and other medical professionals.

The reason why these types of courses are being pushed are the low overhead costs of offering these programs. Whereas let’s say you offer a degree like engineering or computer networking, you would need to build the expensive infrastructure to support it.

With “Healthcare Management” or “Business,” all you need is a room, perhaps a whiteboard and a guy off the street pretending to be a “management guru.”

What it ultimately boils down to is that Kiwi employers are not looking to give any “fresh off the boat” immigrant any kind of managerial or leadership position.

Because of its size, taking in a rookie “manager” is a risky position for most New Zealand companies. Aggravating this further are the strict labour laws, making it hard to fire people who they later find unsuitable.

If you are aspiring Kiwi and want to learn a skill that will lead to jobs, the best course of action would be to look at the job sites and talk directly to employers.

Why I switched to prepaid electricity in New Zealand

Back when I used to live in Manila, I remember to receive unexpected, exaggerated electricity bills all the time because there was no way to closely monitor your consumption on a day to day basis. And because Meralco is a monopoly, you had to pay up your bill on time or your powerline gets ruthlessly cut.

When I moved into my first rental property here in NZ, I had the luxury of choosing over 10 power retailers! This number keeps growing. If you didn’t like the service or the price you are paying for one company, it was very easy to switch to another one. In fact, the government encourages healthy competition among power retailers by asking people to visit this site to find out who gives the cheapest price at a particular point in time. In the end, the consumers win.

As I believe in supporting local businesses, I am with Powershop for the past seven years, a Wellington-based prepaid power company. What I liked about their service is they had smart tools that lets me closely monitor my usage behaviour, and thus giving me power to control my bill.

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It was very easy to buy “load” through their website or phone app. Like a brick and mortar shop, you can buy “patingi tingi” or buy in bulk or in advance to save you money.

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For example, you will get considerable savings if you buy power for the winter during the summer time where prices are cheaper. If you overbuy power by any chance, they will refund you. If let’s say you go on vacation and turn off everything in your house including the fridge, you don’t have to pay anything. My bill dropped to zero when I went back to the Philippines one time.

As an added bonus, I pay Powershop through my American Express card which they accept so I earn airpoints from paying utility bills. At the end of the year, I could earn a free flight from all the airpoints accumulated.

There is no requirement to pay in advance to keep your power going. They will automatically charge your debit or credit card each month if you have not bought enough “powerpacks” in advance to cover your usage. You will not be cut off just because you haven’t logged into their website or app.

If you are already in New Zealand and want to try Powershop, you can use this link to receive $150 worth of power, free.

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Powershop’s quirky “Same power, different attitude” campaign

Key questions to ask yourself when taking a chance with a Visitor Visa

Noong mga nakaraang buwan, dumadami ang nagtatanong sa akin tungkol sa pag-asang makahanap ng trabaho gamit ang visitor visa lamang. Sa aking nakaraan na blog post, nasabi ko na hindi imposible ang paraang ito ngunit madalang mangyari. Gayunpaman, marami pa rin ang nagbabakasali sa kadahilanang hindi masyadong malaki ang itatapon mong pera kung sakaling hindi ka datnan ng suwerte.

Lingid sa kaalaman ng marami, hindi bawal humanap ng trabaho gamit ang visitor visa. Ang tumanggap ng job offer ang bawal. Ang official statement ng immigration ay narito:

“When your visa was granted, it was on the basis of you visiting New Zealand. You can’t work on a visitor visa, but you can look for work.”

Walang “one size, fits all” approach, kung ano ang gumana kay Juan ay hindi automatic na gagana kay Pedro pero ang tagumpay ng paggamit ng visitor visa bilang residency pathway ay nakasalalay sa mga sumusunod:

1. Ano ba ang skills ko na dadalhin sa New Zealand? May kwalipikasyon ba ako at malawak na experience na magpapatunay sa skills na ito? Ang propesyon ko ba ay kailangan ng rehistro sa New Zealand? Kung oo, makukuha ko ba ito?

2. Hinahanap ba ang skills na ito sa New Zealand at ako ba ay babayaran ng malaking halaga para dito? Sa kasalukuyan, $55k per year pataas ang dapat na sueldo at pagbabasehan ng immigration kung iisyuhan ka ba ng work visa. (check careers.govt.nz for NZ salary ranges) Patutunayan din ng employer na wala siyang makita na katulad mo sa mga lokal kaya ikaw ang ihi-hire.

3. Ako ba ay may sapat na ipon para bumili ng plane ticket at pondong panggastos para sa unang anim na buwan ng paghahanap ng trabaho pati na rin ang pambayad sa immigration fees? Kung magisa ka lang, lagay mo na sa kalahating milyon ang kailangan mo. Kung dalawa kayo at higit pa, mas malaki pang halaga. Dapat handa ka na mawala ang perang ito pagkat walang makakasiguro kung makakahanap ka nga ng trabaho o hindi.

Sa huling limang taon, ito ang mga trabaho ng mga pinoy sa New Zealand na naging residente ayon sa Statistics New Zealand:

1. Registered Nurse (Aged Care) 1,268
2. Dairy Cattle Farmer 239
3. Registered Nurse (Medical) 238
4. Registered Nurse (Perioperative) 152
5. Chef 131
6. Registered Nurse (Critical Care and Emergency) 116
7. ICT Customer Support Officer 115
8. Registered Nurse (Surgical) 113
9. Electrical Linesworker (Aus) / Electrical Line Mechanic (NZ) 98
10. Carpenter 94

What is it really like to live in New Zealand?

My friends and family back in the Philippines ask me this question all the time and I would say that no amount of money can actually quantify the lifestyle changes that I experienced.

Let’s begin with how my daily work day starts. Back in Manila, I used to wake up really early to get a headstart with the traffic. My daily commute would around 1.5-2 hours going to, and getting back from work. At the end of the day, I am dead tired not really from the work itself but sitting in public transport, heat and pollution.

In Wellington, New Zealand where I work now, my daily commute is around 10 minutes, 15 minutes if there is “traffic”. I can take my own car to work or ride the bus and it will not make any difference. Sometimes, when the sun is out I take my bike to work and in the office, there are bathroom facilities where I can take a shower before beginning my day.

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You save petrol and parking money biking to work

Here in New Zealand, the water coming from any tap is clean enough to drink. It is the same whether it flows from the shower or the garden hose you use to wash your car. Imagine how much it will cost you in Manila to shower using mineral water everyday?

In Manila, I work on an average of 10-12 hours a day. Here, it is almost unthinkable for anyone to go beyond 40 hours per week and if you do, the employer has to pay overtime or give you a day off in exchange for the extra hours worked. Labour laws are strictly implemented here and you can raise a grievance with an employer if this is breached.

Since I spent less time at work and commuting compared to the Philippines, I actually have more time to spend with family, friends or pursuing a hobby or a passion. Add to that, there is a mandatory four weeks paid annual leave for everyone that you can use to travel outside the country or simply do what you want.

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Biking on the weekend at Rimutaka Hills! Fresh air is priceless

Another thing that saves up time is that most government services are efficient and can be done online -whether getting a driver’s license or passport renewed.You just pay up using your credit or debit card and you will get it after a few days. No need to spend an entire day lining up and dealing with red tape. Same goes with utilities or every other service imaginable.

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Even National / Local elections are done by postal mail

If I go to the USA, Middle East or Singapore, I could probably make more money. But the freedom that New Zealand gives me is so much more. At this point in my life, I value the currency of time more than anything, having good health and being stress free. For that, I am eternally grateful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Should I apply for jobs while still in the Philippines?

With a New Zealand job offer almost mandatory due to the recent immigration changes, oftentimes the first tendency for an aspiring migrant is to mass send applications online and this is not harmless as you may think. Most jobs on seek/trade me clearly indicates you need a valid visa to apply. Now, if you do send an application without it, what impression would I get as an employer with your attention to detail and ability to follow instruction? What would you feel if this same person sends a CV over and over again for every job available?

Note that applying for jobs without a valid visa might backfire to you as most NZ companies now use application management software searching for keywords and sorting people with or without visas. IP tracking alone will identify that you are not in the country. You can also be blocked from the system.

NZ employers are busy people. Why would they waste their time on an applicant not physically in the country and without a valid visa to work?

I was once on the other side of the hiring fence and can share you some of my observations. As job applications moved to the internet, I once witnessed 500+ applications for a single vacancy from all over the world – I see a lot coming from India, China and Europe all hoping for a job offer like you. With Brexit and the Trump win, I would expect that to push up even further. That number includes the jobless of NZ who spam CVs around kahit hindi talaga sila interesado sa trabaho. They do this because they need to submit rejection letters to get the unemployment benefit from the government.

This is where  software comes in as applications can no longer be manually sorted one by one. Do you notice the questions on the online form? Obviously, those people already in the country will be on top of the pecking order.

If you are still in the Philippines and would want to take your chances, looking at accredited NZ employers might be the key. These are companies who applied and expressed their intention to Immigration NZ that they are seeking to employ people from overseas. Once accredited, they don’t need to go through the long tedious process of proving “there is no kiwi to do the job.” You can go to their corporate websites and usually vacancies are posted in their careers section.

One big caveat though is these types of employers are usually looking for special skills that cannot be found with the local population  – the $55k/year above salary requirement alone tells you that (current median salary or half of nz is around $46k) which bring me to the most basic questions you need to ask yourself:

1) What skills do I bring to NZ? What problems can I solve?

2) Would someone be willing to pay me big money for those skills?

3) Why should they pick me instead of hundreds of people with similar skills?

Regardless of your visa status, answers to those questions will let you arrive at a realisation.

I’m not saying it’s impossible to get a job offer outside of New Zealand as I see some people are able to do it. But during this time, it would be best to give your full time and effort researching about the country/company/industry, upskilling to be internationally competitive, sorting out a valid visa than writing and sending CVs/cover letters all day which as mentioned, carry some risks.

Be patient. Your time will come.

Why the Silver Fern Visa is the best pathway today

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Due to the recent changes to the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC), the Silver Fern Visa is perhaps the quickest pathway to enter New Zealand and gain a visa to allow you to legally look for a job, provided you have the skills that the country wants.

This visa targets the 28-35 age group, which I believe is the perfect time to hit the “reset” button to one’s career. If you come too early, you might not have the necessary skillset and experience. If you come too late, then the opportunity for you to pivot and adapt to a different career or industry historically lessens as you approach middle age.

The average processing time of this visa is around 25 days, wherein you will provide evidence of your health, character, qualifications and work experience. This is relatively fast compared to the conventional path of the SMC which has around a one year wait before you could even set foot to the country.

Once you are issued with a Silver Fern Visa, you are now given 9 months to look for the skilled job that matches your experience and qualifications. If all the stars align and you get a job offer, you can eventually lodge your residence onshore, which again will be easier and faster than doing it offshore. The new threshold of 160 points is already unreachable for most people, at least with a Silver Fern you are inside the country, be able to earn NZ dollars and can begin to explore your options. Some Filipinos go through the long and complicated process of SMC only to find out once they are here, they cannot find a job in their profession.

For me, the advantage of going through this process is you get to enter the country relatively quickly, throw your hat in the ring and be able to gauge yourself against the New Zealand job market without spending a lot of money. (Read related: The truth about student visas) This is also different from the working holiday visa as you are not limited to only 3 months work.

I would say once you hit the 6th month of your visa, you will already be able to tell if New Zealand is really for you and your family. You will be exposed to the climate, housing, and culture to the level that ordinary tourists wouldn’t. What some smart Filipinos do is to file a long leave with their existing company in the Philippines (if you can) to mitigate the risks of failing to land a skilled job. Sabi nila, at least may Plan B at babalikan ka pa.

In the end, there is no point staying in a country if you cannot gain long-term employment that will pay for your needs and wants, so the Silver Fern is just the perfect avenue to put yourself in that position. If you return to the Philippines after your trip, you can treat it as a reconnaissance mission and possibly try again later using a different pathway. But it is not a losing cause – you gain more knowledge about the country because there are some stuff you will only find out once you are physically here instead of only reading about it on the internet.

Interested? Make sure you apply using fast broadband internet as visa applications open online on November 3 at 5am Manila Time (10am NZ Time). Have your Visa/Mastercard credit/debit card ready for around a P10,140 peso swipe (subject to change). The 300 slots are filled within seconds.

Addendum: For restricted occupations like nurses, you need to secure New Zealand registration first BEFORE applying for this visa.