Friday, October 13, 2017

How to apply for New Zealand Visa [Filipino Citizens]

8000 km away from the Philippines lies an uncrowded, green and peaceful country of New Zealand. Situated down under, the country is famous for its post-card perfect landscapes, sceneries and culture.

I have been fascinated with New Zealand's(Maori people)  culture specifically their traditional dance "HAKA". But before daydreaming about this stuff, we Filipinos(having Philippine Passport) traveling as a tourist, need a visa to enter the country but luckily the visa-fee is waived(if planning to stay less then 60 days) for us meaning we will save a huge amount of money(NZD165 around 6,000 PHP).

In this article, I will be listing out all the process and the experiences I have undergone while applying a New Zealand Visitor Visa. Visitor visa allows you to visit the country as a tourist, visit friends and relatives, play some sports or perform in cultural events without pay, get married and if you are to undertake a short-term study.

Just like my other Visa guides, Everything here was based on my personal experiences.

Part I: Requirements

Duly filled up Application Form

Here is the link for the application form: click here. Please note that you need to fill up every item and never leave blank space but rather add "N/A". Also, double check what you have written there.

Identity (You must provide proof of your identity)

  • You need to prepare your valid Philippine passport. Must have at least 6 pages of vacant page and xerox copy of the bio page
  • 2 acceptable photos

Funds or sponsorship (You must have enough money to live on while in NZ or have an acceptable sponsor)

You must have at least NZ $1,000 per month, or NZ $400 per month if you’ve already paid for your accommodation. Also, provide a xerox copy of each file submitted.

Evidence can include :
  • proof of accommodation pre-payment, like hotel pre-paid vouchers or receipts
  • bank statements
  • credit card statements
  • bank drafts
  • travelers’ cheques
  • a 'Sponsorship Form for Temporary Entry' completed by an acceptable sponsor.
If you are sponsored, your sponsor must provide evidence they can look after you in New Zealand. Evidence can include:
  • recent bank statements
  • pay slips
  • employment agreement
  • accommodation ownership or payment of rent.

Onward Travel (You must have a ticket to leave New Zealand or be sponsored for the cost of your onward travel)

Evidence can include:
  • proof you have enough money to buy a ticket out of New Zealand, in addition to the funds you have to live on
  • your travel ticket
  • a 'Sponsorship Form for Temporary Entry' completed by an acceptable sponsor.
If you are sponsored, your sponsor must provide evidence they can look after you in New Zealand. Evidence can include:
  • recent bank statements
  • pay slips
  • employment agreement
  • accommodation ownership or payment of rent
For more information you may visit New Zealand Immigration: click here

Optional Documents

  • Certificate of Employment (if employed)
  • Business Registration / Permits (if businessman)
  • Income Tax Return (ITR)

In my case, as a regular employee, I submitted the following documents below and I have xerox copied every single one of them:

  • Valid Philippine passport 
  • NZ visitor visa application form
  • NSO Birth Certificate
  • 2 copies of Passport size photo (35mm x 45mm in dimension with white background)
  • Bank Statement with a signature from the bank manager. 
  • Credit Card statement
  • Income Tax Return (ITR)
  • Certificate of Employment indicating my tenure, position, salary and etc.
  • Roundtrip Tickets ( From Philippines to Australia and Australia to New Zealand from Cebu Pacific Piso fare and $5 sale of Jetstar :))
Please note that I don't have any sponsor. Also, you may notice that I did not submit any accommodation booking as I am planning to do Couchsurfing or stay with a friend. If you ask how much money I have in the bank, it is less than 50,000 PHP.

Part II: How to apply

After gathering the requirements, I finally decided to submit my application. I submitted my application via (VFS global)  New Zealand Visa Application center in Cebu (your representative may also submit it for you). Refer to the address below:

VFS Global Services Philippines Private Inc.,
9th Floor, Keppel Center, Unit 905, Samar Loop
cor. Cardinal Rosales Avenue,
Cebu Business Park, Cebu City 6000

VFS Global Services Philippines Private Inc.,
Mezzanine Floor Unit M01, Ecoplaza Building,
2305 Chino Roces Avenue Extension Makati City, Metro Manila 1231

The VFS agent double checked the requirements that I brought and ask me for some minor questions. After checking and when everything was aligned, the agent then asked me to pay the following fees below, take note that this is VFS fees and not the visa fee as the visitor visa-fee is already waived for us Filipinos. My application will be forwarded to Manila and that the courier service will just deliver it to the address I added to the application. After submitting, the agent handed me something like a claiming stub that I need to present to the courier delivery, also in it is some information about the application in case you have questions. Please note that New Zealand Visa Application Centre will accept all of the payment in PHP currency only and they accept cash, credit card, bank transfer and etc.

VFS service fees

Part III: Processing

After paying the fees and submitting the requirements, I receive a text message from VFS acknowledging that my application was received and thus provided me with tracking number. The next day I received another text message informing me that my application is now under process at the New Zealand Embassy in Manila. From then on, I never heard from them till 4 days later where I receive another text informing me that my processed application has been dispatched. So I was thinking that the result might be in and that my passport will be delivered to me soon. The next day I received a call from the courier and inform me that they will deliver my passport and that if I am available to receive it. Fast forward I got my passport and went searching for the visa and pufffffff it was there. I was granted with a multiple entry visitor visa.

To give you a summary:

Date Event
9/10/2017 ~  9/13/2017  Fill up the application form, gather and scan the documents.
9/13/2017 Submitted my application and Acknowledgement was received.
9/14/2017 Application is under process in New Zealand Embassy in Manila
9/14/2017 ~  9/17/2017  Waiting for results.
9/18/2017 Processed application has been dispatched 
9/19/2017 Received my passport with the visa

My Multiple Entry New Zealand Visa

Have you tried applying for New Zealand visa? Share your stories and experience in the comment section below. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

How to apply for Australian Visa [Filipino Citizens]

Australia, the land down under, surrounded by great oceans and vast land, it is definitely a must go for people who love nature. Famous for its Koalas, Kangaroos and its overly diverse wildlife, there are more to that that Australia can offer.

But before you can proceed in exploring them,  Filipinos need a VISA to enter the country. Luckily, Australia is much more welcoming compared to other western countries by how they ease the visa application for each individual by having it done ONLINE.

In this article, I will be listing out all the process and the experiences I have undergone while applying an Australian Tourist Visa [Visitor visa (subclass 600) ] ONLINE. Just like my other Visa guides, Everything here was based on my personal experiences.

To give you an overview, here are the steps you need to do:

  1. Create an Account with Australian Government Department of Immigration and border protection.
  2. Fill up application form for Visitor Visa Subclass 600
  3. Upload Supporting documents needed
  4. Pay the visa fee
  5. Wait for result

Let's get started, MATE! 

Creating an Account

In order to jumpstart with the online visa application, you need to create an ImmiAccount.
Here is the registration page: Click here

You should see something like below.
ImmiAccount Registration Page
Once you have successfully registered, try logging in to your account. Once logged in, click on the "New application" which is found at the upper left corner of the page. In the New application section click on "Visitor" and under it click "Visitor Visa(600)". From here you are now ready to start filling up the application form.

Fill up application form

In every visa application in general, I always don't leave empty or blank space and just add N/A if in case I don't have it or doesn't  apply to me.

Start of  the application 
Items in the application are self-explanatory. All you need to do is read them carefully and answer them. Be sure to answer all items required and double check them. In case you cannot finish the application in one go, you may save and continue later before submitting.

Attaching supporting documents

After filling up the application, you will now proceed in attaching your supporting documents.
Please refer to the checklist of documents for this application for more information about what to attach.

In each category below, you need to add a supporting document for them. 

Category for supporting documents.

The Australian Government sets a limit of 30 files for Visitor Visa online applications, and files must not exceed more than 5MB in size. In order to keep up with the limit, they recommend that you scan your documents at 96 dpi, and not to attach photos in Office document files, as this will increase the file size.

Below are the documents that I have attached.

Supporting documents that I submitted

Financial Capacity - Personal, Evidence of 

  • A copy of my Bank Statement plus a Bank certificate. If you ask how much was inside my account, It was less than 50,000 PHP.
  • A copy of my Credit Card statement of account.
  • A copy of my 2016 Income Tax Return.
  • A copy of my Certificate of Employement where it indicates my tenure, position, my salary and etc.

Note: If you are a freelancer you may add your contract details or payslips and if you are a businessman, you may add a copy of your business permit/registration. Also if you have sponsors, you may add your sponsor's documents such as payslip, COE and etc.

Planned tourism activities, Evidence of

  • A copy of my rough planned activity in Australia (though I am not going to follow it).

Planned Activity

  • A copy of my flight ticket to Australia (Since I book it in advance via Cebu Pacific Piso fare, thanks, Cebu Pac!)

Note: It is not recommended to buy a ticket without a visa first. If you have a sponsor a letter of invitation can also be added here.

Travel Document

  • A copy of my Current Passport Bio.
  • A copy of a passport size photo( dimension should be 45 mm x 35 mm)

Travel history, Evidence of

  • A copy of my expired and existing visas, as well as entry/exit stamped pages of my current and old passport.

Birth or Age, Evidence of

  • A copy of my NSO birth certificate.

They say you need to have your documents certified or notarized but in my case, I did not do this but still, it was accepted. Just to emphasize, I am not saying or promoting of skipping this process, just to be on the safe side better have it notarized.

Once you have attached every required supporting document per category, Please do another round of check before submitting. Once everything is in place and you are now confident, hit submit and proceed to the next step which is paying for the visa fee.

Paying the visa fee

After submitting your documents and forms you will now be prompted to pay the visa fee. You may pay using credit or debit card. The visa fee is around 140 AUD + the surcharge of around 1% if paid via credit card. For convenience, I paid the fee via credit card and the transaction was around 6,027.06 PHP considering the PHP(Sept 2017) is really low that time. After paying, you will receive an acknowledgment email that your application is received.

Waiting for result

This will be the hardest and the thrilling part of the application process, the waiting for results.

In general processing times for the application depends and will be assessed on a case by case basis and actual processing times can vary due to individual circumstances. If the Australian Government needs /request more documents from you they will inform you in the email.

From the time I submitted my application, it took around 7 days to hear from them again and that informing me of a visa grant. I was granted with 1 yr multiple entry tourist visa.

To give you a greater picture of the timeline of the entire process below:

Date Event
9/6/2017 Created an ImmiAccount
9/6/2017 ~  9/10/2017  Fill up the application form, gather and scan the documents.
9/11/2017 Submitted my application and Acknowledgement was received.
9/11/2017 ~  9/17/2017  Waiting for results.
9/18/2017 Received an email with the Visa Grant.

I find this process fast, easy and convenient and would recommend it to anybody.

My Visa Grant notice.

Have you tried applying for Australian visa? Share your stories and experience in the comment section below.