Category Archives: Immigration

Joining a Kiwi partner in New Zealand

kiwiAs it is Valentines day today, I will be discussing “partnership” in the context of New Zealand.

For you to be able to gain a visa based on partnership, first let us define what this means to Immigration as it is largely different from what we are used to as Filipinos.

A “partner” in Kiwi speak does not mean “boyfriend-girlfriend” in pinoy speak. It is also NOT a requirement that the two of you need to be married or even of the opposite sex.

When you lodge a visa to join a Kiwi partner in New Zealand, Immigration will be looking if you live together in a “genuine and stable relationship” even if you are both men or both women. It could be a lot of different factors including:

  • how long you’ve been together
  • how long you’ve been living together as a couple
  • your living arrangements
  • whether you support each other financially
  • how you share financial responsibilities
  • how committed you are to a life together
  • whether you own property together and/or share your property
  • any children you have together, including your arrangements for their care
  • whether you share common household tasks
  • whether other people recognise your relationship.

This means they should be an on-going relationship ideally 12 months or more. There is no “fiance visa” in NZ nor is a marriage certificate enough to prove a relationship.

Instead, the best documents to produce are the following:

  • birth certificates for any children you share
  • cards, letters, emails and social media conversations
  • photos together
  • a joint rental agreement or home loan
  • mail addressed to you together at the same place and time
  • joint bank accounts with significant movement
  • evidence you own assets together
  • joint credit cards or loan agreements
  • joint utilities accounts, like power or phone bills

This is the reason “Marriage of convenience” or “anchor babies” rarely happen in New Zealand because of the substantial evidences you need to present.

If you have been living apart but in a relationship, you need to provide information about the reasons for this. For example, husband was working in the Middle East while the wife was busy looking after the property and children in the Philippines.

A common strategy among Filipinos is they let one person go ahead to New Zealand to look for work while the partner stays in the Philippines. The tips above are important to keep in mind and collate evidences as early as possible to allow for a smooth transition for a reunion down the line.



How to spot a dodgy immigration adviser

I’ve discussed the business of immigration advisers in the past and have stated my reasons to be wary of their services.

Nowadays I see a lot of them peddling on social media and even the licensed ones are spewing myths, half truths and outright lies just to get people to sign up.

Here are some sure-fire ways to identify which ones you should stay away from:

  1. Recommends study as pathway to residency. This is a no-brainer. Even the NZ Government itself have stated this is not the case and our very own Philippine Ambassador have warned against doing this to avoid huge financial loss. 
  2. Describes New Zealand as “an easy place to find a job” without knowing your skills.
  3. Uses buzzwords like “free healthcare” or “bring your family” when this is not automatically the case for everyone.
  4. Claims you don’t need IELTS. If residency is your end goal there is no way of dodging an English test now unless you grew up and educated in the United States or other countries where English is the first language.
  5. Claims even WITHOUT experience you can get a job in New Zealand. The current job market is flooded with unemployed people with heaps of qualifications and experience. What more a person with no experience and coming from overseas?
  6. They claim you can earn while studying. Sure you can earn but with a 20 hour-a-week legal limit to work while on a student visa, it is nearly impossible to recoup the living and immigration-related costs. Here it is called beer money.




Full speech of Ms. June Ranson talking to international students

Fifteen point summary of her talk:

  1. Don’t study business or management.
  2. If you are keen on studying, review your course if it meets New Zealand’s skill shortages.
  3. Don’t waste your time and just take any odd job, find an employer that will utilise your best skills that will lead to residency.
  4. Consider joining Toastmasters to improve your communication skills.
  5. Move out of the Filipino community. Mingle with other cultures.
  6. Identify actual companies that actually interest you. Do your background research on that employer.
  7. Don’t be passive in interviews, ask questions which gives good signals to employers.
  8. Learn how to write a kiwi-style CV and modify your CV to the job you’re applying for so it covers the issues that the employer is looking for.
  9. Remember that not all jobs are advertised – networking is a good way of finding this hidden job market.
  10. If you use Trade Me or Seek, expect hundreds of applications, make your CV stand out and worth looking at.
  11. Talk to your Kiwi tutors or friends and ask them for recommendations on who to talk to with regard to employment opportunities.
  12. Leverage the idea that a New Zealand employer can “try you out” whereas hiring a Kiwi would be difficult to fire if they don’t become a good fit.
  13. Steer clear of employers who don’t pay the minimum wage or practice dodgy stuff like “pay for a job”.
  14. New Zealand employers are keen on helping you at immigration paperwork if they can see the value you are adding.
  15. When you receive a job offer, look carefully at the job description if it matches the ANZSCO.


Paano magtrabaho ang mga Kiwi


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.


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”.


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.


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.


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.


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


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:


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

immigration change
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.


Why the Silver Fern Visa is the best pathway today


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.

Implications of latest policy changes

Last October 11, Immigration New Zealand implemented radical changes to the Skilled Migrant Category, Parent Category and the way it evaluates its English Language requirements. If you have been invited to apply prior to this date, the old rules will still apply to you. If not and interested to apply for residency, read on to learn how this affects you.

The biggest change is the selection of EOIs of only 160 points or more, which was raised from the previous 140 points. What this means is essentially pulling the plug on the residence hope of most international students, which had been flooding the New Zealand job market in recent years. Everybody saw this coming when Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said this on live TV. From a policy standpoint, what I see the NZ government is doing is essentially raising the bar for its skilled intake and only allowing immigrants who will not only pay more in tax money than the average Kiwi, but not compete with the locals for low to medium skilled labour. There is also mounting political pressure to decongest Auckland due to the housing crisis.

This is a profile of an individual or family with above 160 points:

  • 10 years or more of work experience in an area of government identified shortage
  • A recognised graduate or post graduate qualification related to the above
  • A skilled New Zealand job offer outside of Auckland (annual salary of 70k or above would indicate the level of skill)
  • Perhaps a partner who also works and passes the English requirement

If you fall to the above criteria then I don’t see any problem gaining residence if the paperwork is right. If you don’t, the only way around it would be to gain more experience in a comparative labour market, or gain higher qualifications. I will discuss this later on a separate article.

As for the English language requirement, Immigration NZ from October 12 would only accept IELTS score of 6.5 above on all bands (nurses and other professions might need higher) – reading, speaking, writing and listening. They’ve also added other alternatives like TOEFL and similar English tests. When I applied for residency eight years ago, I only presented my certificate of medium of instruction from UP Diliman. This has changed.

Frankly if you fall in the profile I mentioned above, I don’t see anyone not getting this score. I would recommend taking this test before lodging your EOI. You can review and retake it in case you fail to reach the minimum points. Please note there is an expiry of these certifications so time it accordingly.

For stopping the parent category, it is quite understandable from the position of the NZ government as most of these older folks coming into NZ contribute nothing economically and puts a serious strain to the public health system. Family reunification has been one of the values of Kiwi society but the current economic climate warrants this temporary halt.






How to enter New Zealand as a Filipino


Since I started this blog, I have been asked several times about the different pathways to legally enter New Zealand. I would like to begin that all information is on the official immigration website and what I will enumerate is a mere summary of the most common pathways that Filipinos take to START living and working in New Zealand. Please note that this is not immigration advice but a bird’s eyeview of the NZ immigration system as of this date, and is subject to change anytime.

1. Skilled Migrant Category Residence Visa

This is the “ultimate end goal” among Filipinos 55 years old and under, wanting to live and work in New Zealand. It works on a points-based system based on your age, qualifications, work experience and skilled job offer. It goes without saying that you must be healthy, have no criminal convictions and fluent in English. This is a process that normally takes anywhere between 1-2 years from Expression of Interest to the stamping of your resident visa on your passport.

2. Essential Skills Work Visa

If you have the skills that New Zealand needs and your employer proves to immigration that no kiwi is available to do the job then you might be entitled to get this visa. You will undergo a process called “labour market testing” except for accredited employers authorised by immigration. Karamihan sa mga kababayan natin na nagtatrabaho sa Christchurch rebuild ay ito ang way of entry.

3. Student Visa

Contrary to what immigration advisers might say, this is the most expensive and riskiest visa to take as I explained before.  This is the option most Filipinos presently take if they don’t qualify for the points threshold of a Resident Visa. It allows you to work part time for 20 hours every week and full-time during school breaks. With this visa, you take a course to study and depending on the level you MIGHT be eligible for a Post Study Work Visa to allow you to stay in the country and look for work. But make sure you have loads of money upwards of 1 million pesos (that you might not recoup) if you decide to take this route.

4. Silver Fern Job Search Visa

For highly skilled young people (20-35 years old) wanting to come in and look for work. There is a quota of 300 slots each year so you have to get in quick. This is a better option than entering via Student Visa in my opinion.

5. Working Holiday Visa

A recent new visa for Filipinos, aged 18-30 to allow you to work 3 months for a single employer. For this reason, this is a good option only if your primary reason is tour and see the country. Nonetheless, it allows you to enter the country and legally seek work.

6. Work Visa based on partnership

Take note there is no fiance visa like in the US. A certificate of marriage wouldn’t suffice either. Ideally, you have to be living with your partner (can be a same boy or a girl) for 12 months or more before applying for this visa, and there are enough documents to prove financial interdependence (e.g. joint bank accounts, tenancy agreement, etc.) to be eligible for this visa. So searching dating sites for a kiwi boyfriend or girlfriend is a no go.

7. Visitor Visa

There are some incredible stories from Filipinos who were on a visitor visa but were able to get a job and permanent residence but these are VERY RARE, usually coming from the older crowd who arrived pre-2000. Still, getting a visitor visa is a relatively low risk move to allow you to see the country and possibly meet employers without spending heaps of cash. But at the end of the day, you would still need a work visa as above to sign and take a job offer.

8. Enterpreneur Work Visa

I haven’t met a Filipino who went via this route. In case you’re interested, you need at least $100,000 NZD or 3.5M pesos to invest and start a business here.

There you go. As you can see, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to starting your New Zealand dream. What works for Pedro will not necessarily work for Juan. But in the end, take responsibility for your own actions and not play the “victim card” when things don’t go your way. Do your own research that applies to your own situation and take that calculated risk.